12 Jul 2024 22:19

Mobile & Digital

Re-targeting fails to get its timing right

For advertising to be effective, so says the old adage, you have to reach the right people with the right message at the right time. Unfortunately, when it comes to retargeting it seems that a lot of display ads could be failing to get their timing right.

I have never liked retargeting. It is a technique that just seems to lack any respect for the consumer and seems to be used indiscriminately without thought (see this post for more on this topic) One of my big complaints is that all too often re-targeted ads reach people after they have made a purchase decision. Now a survey from the UK conducted by InSkin Media and Rapp Media finds that retargeted ads that are seen by consumers after they have already researched an item or service online are more likely to put them off purchasing.

I know it is only a survey. I am sure that behavioral data finds that re-targeting improves the response rate from miniscule to pathetically low. However, at least the survey gives us some insight into how the 99% of people feel when they are chased around the web by ads for brands they have already bought or rejected. While less than 30% of survey participants claim to feel angry or annoyed if they see an ad three times or less, this proportion rises to nearer 60% after 10 or more exposures.

Paul Phillips, head of media strategy at Rapp, states,

“Marketers and planners are negligent if they don’t devote more careful planning around frequency caps and other contextual filters before letting the maths men hit the send button.”

Phillips’ reference to contextual filters refers to the finding that ads served on unrelated sites are over 11 times more likely to discourage than encourage a purchase.

The fact that advertising can have negative as well as positive effects is not limited to the domain of online advertising, it is simply more apparent. Do we get irritated when we see the same TV ad repeatedly? If the creative does not make it worth our time to watch, yes. It does not matter which medium we see them in; repeated exposure to lackluster, boring and unimaginative ads is going to annoy people. The problem with online display is that most creative is lackluster, boring and unimaginative and the advertiser’s motives are transparent: buy my brand, buy my brand, buy my brand!!! For most people this sort of mindless approach simply evokes the demand to “Get out of my face!” particularly when they have already made up their mind about the brand.

So what do you think? Does re-targeting actually undermine positive views of a brand? And why do so many digital ads fail to engage? Please share your thoughts. 


Authored by by Nigel Hollis


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