Will User Control Stop Retargeting Overexposure?

Display ad retargeting is the hot, not-so-new trick in your conversion optimization bag. It allows you to target only those that have visited your site and create laser-targeted creatives that follow them based on the actions they have taken on your site (abandoned a product category, product page, or shopping cart, for example).

But the risk with retargeting is overexposure. It can have a negative effect on site abandoners who feel they are being ‘stalked.’ To control over-exposure, advertisers can use negative audiences, frequency capping and burn pixels (e.g. removing a user from the pool after conversion).

Recently, Google Adwords announced it will roll out a “mute this ad” feature for users to exercise more control over the ads they see.

While this helps, some challenges remain:

  • Its efficacy depends on the user actually noticing the ad, then noticing the mute icon, understanding what it is and taking action.
  • If user is pixeled by other networks aside from Google’s, she may continue to see the ad. This can be more frustrating as the user doesn’t understand she is in multiple buckets, and may assume the feedback system failed.
  • The user may still be shown ads on other computers and devices if she visits the site from multiple touch points, or if re-cookied after clearing browser cookies.
  • Users may be opting out of a specific offer, but may still respond to other campaigns from this advertiser. It is unclear whether the opt-out is for the ad itself or the advertiser.

In a perfect world, feedback would sync across ad networks and devices, and would be specify whether the user wants to opt out from the ad or advertiser. It will be interesting to see how this system evolves over time.

In the meantime, continue to adhere to best practices in ad retargeting.


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