Re-targeting or Stalking? The science behind frequency limits

Re-targeting or Stalking The science behind frequency limits

One of the key buzzwords of the moment has to be re-targeting. As e-commerce grows in stature, behavioral re-targeting, behavioral remarketing, or simply retargeting is coming to the fore with digital marketers and e-commerce business owners alike. Find out more about setting that up here.

What exactly is retargeting?

It is a form of online targeted advertising to consumers based on their previous activity online. This tracking, or as some like to call it, stalking, is in the form of a tiny pixel that lives on your website or email marketing and, in doing so, can track the consumer’s movements via their browser and unique IP address. Advertisers can then display adverts specifically to those customers based on their past internet usage.

Dynamic creative or personalized retargeting is the next step, allowing advertisers to display creativity to a consumer based on the previous sites they visited. So a genre, interest, or even more specifically, products.

Consumers will end up seeing adverts for products that they have specifically searched for in their browser or even shown an interest in on another website when they are on other sites or social networks. 

For some consumers, this interruption is a bit disconcerting. It has led many consumers to question their data privacy and what is safe on their devices. 

What does need to be clear is that personal information is not the ultimate aim, but rather be more relevant to the consumers’ needs when they are looking for that particular product or service. 

What are the different types of retargeting?

There are currently various types of retargeting which advertisers and marketers can use:

Site re-targeting: This is re-marketing to consumers who have previously visited your website. Therefore, they have shown some level of interest in your product or service but did not complete the purchase cycle for some reason. 

This is less intrusive, as they have already found you and have interacted to some level. Find some other tips here.

Search Re-targeting: This is a retargeting based on the potential customer’s search results, so they have never visited the brand’s website but have shown interest in the product or service offering via a search console. These advertisements will then be served on various other websites, either as banner ads or display ads across websites and social media platforms. 

Link Re-targeting: This is far more controlled by the advertiser when communicating with their existing customer base, email lists, or social media followers. It entails linking specific creative to a link shared on their online channels, including their website. 

Once the audience clicks on the link, a cookie is added to their browser, and the advertiser can then target them with the specific creative in varying segments. Email re-targeting: The simplest form of re-marketing is marketing to a consumer after reading an email or visiting their website with email marketing. 

What are the major concerns surrounding re-targeting?

In the USA, several organizations, congress, and the media have expressed concerns about citizens’ privacy. The protection of personal information has really come to the fore with many issues around the big players in the online space not being as protective of consumers’ personal data. 

The large data companies and responsible personalized re-targeting providers are not meant to be collecting specific data on consumers, including their name, age, gender, and race. 

However, the websites build profiles on consumers based on their behavioral patterns, what sites they visit, and what content they consume. This behavioral data is then available to be used for re-targeting.

When enough is enough

For anyone who studied marketing in the 20th century, the advertising rule of thumb was a frequency of 3 for a consumer to engage enough with your brand to decide to buy. 

By the 1990s, an average reach and frequency were based on Television advertising exposure, with Radiofrequency being much higher. It did not have the added benefits of being visual like Television was. 

But that was all pre-online domination. Now consumers are bombarded with potentially over 5000 advertising messages a day. These include all of the usual suspects in terms of Television, Radio, Out of Home, and any print titles they may come across. 

It also needs to consider the product placements in TV shows, Movies, branded cars, trailers, trucks, and then only start to include mobile and online space.

Marketers moved the frequency required to a minimum of 7 times before a consumer would act on a purchase desire. 

It is no wonder that today’s consumers are hard-pressed to focus on any one message for a period of time, and the frequency caps have become much higher to ensure breakthrough. 

The second issue, which developed with the onset of the mobile device in everyone’s hands, is the personalization of content to consumers in their faces. So with the advent of retargeting, consumers will have searched for something and immediately get served a branded advert for that product or service. 

They no longer need to be exposed to that particular message 7 times as the advert is so targeted that there was possibly another issue at play if they did not instantly act on the opportunity. 

Marketers just wanted to be sure. So they would continue to retarget them a lot more to be certain that they were not interested in their product or service after all. 

The danger with this over-exposure in such an intimate setting is dealing with an irritation factor that the consumer may feel. Once consumers understand how to block or report an advertiser, it is tickers for the advertiser. They then need to start from scratch and start stalking the next victim.  

What advertisers need to focus on is the connection between frequency and cost per acquisition. How much does it land up costing you to close that sale? 

Running an e-commerce store is a critical question to know the answer to. If you are not tracking your conversion and acquisition costs, you may be surprised to know that you may, in fact, be paying the consumer to buy your product after all! 

In recent years, the ad frequency of between 2 and 4 seems to be the sweet spot, which had taken us back four decades to when we were aiming for a 3 frequency to TV consumers. The only difference is, now we are not hoping that the consumer is watching the TV show we bought our ad in, we are serving it to them regardless of what they are consuming and across any channel or device they may be consuming it on. 

At some point, consumers will be at a level where they can afford to pay for zero advertising media. We already see this on streaming services like Netflix or Podcasts by subscription to avoid the irritation factor of being bombarded with commercials over and over again. 

I am certain that marketers will find the next big way to reach them, but this may take on another shape or form, or it may just go back to the basics of advertising on billboards. Except they may be digitized only to show you what you have already shown interest in.

This turns out, opening up some interesting conversation threads on what the consumers want, needs vs. what the marketer wants and needs. And that is a whole different story. 

2 thoughts

  1. I read your most of the blog and all are really helpful and amazing. You tried to describe clearly in every blog. Really amazing!

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