As an Internet user, chances are you’re regularly on the receiving end of retargeting campaigns – you just might not know it yet.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, retargeting (known as remarketing in the Google realm) is the practice of serving ads based on a searcher’s previous search history.
So if you’ve ever noticed ads for products you researched online – say, a pair of shoes or a flight to Hawaii – following you around the web, that was more than likely retargeting.
The benefit of retargeting is that it helps companies advertise to visitors who leave their site without a conversion. This is all good news for marketers – but studies show that the practice is not exactly favored (or in some cases, recognized) by consumers.
In a Q1 2012 survey of 2,000 US adults Pew Internet’s Search Engine Use 2012 uncovered what Internet users really think about retargeting.
First off, a sizable portion of Internet users have not yet realized that they’re seeing retargeted ads. On average, only 59% said they noticed being targeted by ads online that were directly related to things they’d recently searched or sites they’d visited.
According to Pew’s research, 68% of US adults said they were “not OK” with targeted ads because they “don’t like having their online behavior tracked and analyzed.” On the other hand, 28% said they were OK with it because it means that they are served more relevant ads for things that they’re really interested in.
The study also revealed some interesting demographic findings related to retargeting. The older a person is (up until the 65+ mark), the less like likely they are to feel OK with targeted ads. Likewise, the more money a person makes, the less likely they are to be comfortable with ads, up until the $75,000+ mark.
This data, however, does not reveal any insights on the effect targeted ads have on purchase; when consumers notice an ad following them around on the internet, they may or may not notice it, and they may or may not feel annoyed. But what about the ad’s effect on the increasingly complex digital path to purchase?