Search for it today and it shows up in your news feed tomorrow. Why?

canstockphoto7419473Last night I was Christmas shopping for slippers on several websites. Today, ads for slippers from those same sites are showing up all over my news feeds.

How does my news feed know? 

It’s called “retargeting” and it’s a marketing technique used by companies to increase the likelihood that I will purchase those slippers.

How do they know that I was shopping for slippers on their sites? I got “cookied.” Somewhere on their site they installed a hidden pixel that attached itself to what I am doing online.

That code will follow me all over the Web as if to say, “Hey, remember me?” as companies “retarget” me with ads for slippers and other products or services they know I am interested in.

The “target” part is what makes this form of marketing so effective. Unlike a general display ad that appears on a site, these ads have been tailored to my likes, interests and online activity.

Can this get annoying?

It can be a little unnerving and annoying to see ads for products we’ve been searching for. But if a company does it right, it won’t be overdone.

Can it ruin a surprise?

You do want to be careful if you don’t want other people to know what you’ve been shopping for. Sharing your computer or phone with friends and family can easily ruin a surprise. I heard about a guy who was searching for engagement rings as he was planning to surprise his girlfriend with a marriage proposal. She figured it out when she went to use his laptop and engagements rings were popping up everywhere.

Does retargeting work?

In my case, I was searching for slippers but I got busy with other things and went about my evening, forgetting all about those slippers. But the company that wants to sell me those slippers didn’t forget. The next day I see those slippers popping up all over my computer screen. Sure enough, I ordered them.

The company knows that by retargeting and reminding me about those slippers, I was more likely to “convert” that search to a sale. Statistics show the company probably is right. Users who are retargeted are 70 percent more likely to convert their search to a purchase, according to Digital Information World.

Make it stop!

If you are not fond of seeing those ads pop up for items you have been searching for, you can stop it by clearing your browser’s Web cache and cookies.

Not sure how to do that? Google it.

Or you can just accept it and have a little fun with it by searching for things you don’t mind seeing in your news feeds (think George Clooney, Porsche or bacon).

Can your business benefit from retargeting?

Any business can create a retargeting campaign. The most popular retargeting networks are Google AdWords, Facebook and Twitter.

For example, on Facebook, you can deliver ads to people who have visited your site using a program called “Facebook Exchange”. A “cookie” is installed on your site.  You create a “retargeting audience” and create Facebook ad campaigns to target that audience. The ads show up on the right sidebar of their newsfeed.

As a business owner, a retargeting strategy might work well for you. As a consumer, be careful what you search for. Big Brother is watching you and wants you to buy those slippers.


Deb Neuman

About Deb Neuman

Deb thinks Maine is a great place to do business and loves telling the stories of Mainers proving that it can be done! An entrepreneur at heart, she enjoys helping others with the same drive to create and innovate!