Google remarketing: persistence or stalking?

Posted by Dave CollinsDigital Marketing, Google Ads, Marketing

Google’s remarketing allows you to reach people who’ve visited your website.

We’ve been testing the system for a few months now.

Person A visit the SoftwarePromotions website, and from that point on starts seeing our banner ads all over the web.

Warning: read the rest of this entry before you click the link!

And I mean all over. Try it.

Go to our website, a cookie will be planted on your system, and you’ll then see the reach of the remarketing system.

The question isn’t whether or not the system works. We’ve picked up new work at a low cost, and some of our clients are seeing great results from remarketing too.

The question is whether or not the basic strategy is a good idea.

Let’s consider a hypothetical example.

Your ad is shown repeatedly to 1,000 people who have visited your website but not bought what you offer.

Many (or most) of them will start seeing your ad repeatedly.

Some may start to notice it “everywhere”.

If 10 out of the 1,000 people buy what you sell as a result of the ads, that’s probably quite good.

If 100 out of the 1,000 people buy what you sell as a result of the ads, that’s probably very good.

But there are a number of important issues to consider.

The first is that it’s impossible to gauge the accuracy of the data. It’s possible that all of the 10 or 100 would have purchased anyway.

The second is that you might be irritating people. It’s possible that some of them will actually be put off you and your company by the annoyance of your ads.

The third is what you’re selling. If you offer emergency dental services, most/all of your victims will already have found their solution, so there would be little to gain.

If you sell Digital Marketing services (see the above warning before clicking the link) your potential customers might appreciate your reach and approach.

I’ve been receiving feedback from a number of people who’ve been exposed to our remarketing.

Most have been indifferent. It hasn’t registered as significant.

Some have been impressed – people are surprised that we’re advertising on websites like The Washington Post, and by our apparent perseverance.

But a small number of people don’t like it.

Peldi from Balsamiq emailed me that our banners were annoying him, and agreed to answer some of my questions:

Q: The nutshell version of Google remarketing is that it shows your ads to people who’ve visited your website in the past. You find this annoying – why?

A: Because ever since this got launched, I only ever see ads from the same two companies (SoftwarePromotions and Atlassian), wherever I go. It’s annoying because these are partners of ours, I’m already a customer! It’s also annoying because it makes me clearly aware that I’m being followed all over the web, which is creepy.

Q: Do you think that “most people” would find this sort of advertising annoying?

A: Yes, it’s creepy.

Q: Do you see a legitimate use for remarketing? A scenario that you might consider using it?

A: Not sure. Maybe once everyone does it it will feel less targeted, but I guess that’ll make it less effective so we’ll be back to square one.

Q: Remarketing ads won’t popup over all sites that you go to. If companies weren’t remarketing you’d still see other ads. Does it matter?

A: Maybe what I hate is that it’s forcing me to look at the ads. I usually ignore banners, but the fact that they’re ALWAYS yours is noticeable. But I gotta tell you, it’s not making me like your company for cyber-stalking me like this…

Over to you. I’m curious as to what you think. Please add your thoughts and opinions to the comments below.