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The first thing I have to say about retargeting marketing is that as it works right now, and alongside the conduct standards of many website owners, there is an ethical debate we have to nod our heads to. I know, you didn’t come here to hear me soapbox about the finer points of internet privacy. But, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out this elephant in the room first. Yeah, the way retargeting marketing works over the internet, it often results in a violation of privacy. Now, settle down, because ninety nine percent of the time, it’s only the principle that’s significant, no harm is really done. See, it uses a cookie, which is a data storage format used by the browser and websites, to install a tracking entity. Basically, the practice is for your website to tag this cookie with your company’s identity. As the user leaves, and continues to browse the internet, advertising platforms in place across the web, which handle the delivery of ads to websites, will detect this tag in the cookie. They will then target ads that lead back to your company and your website. This technology was developed to handle the problem that only two percent of web traffic will convert to customers on their first visit. That’s ok. With retargeting, it can coerce ninety eight percent of the users to return and eventually become customers, is the rest of your marketing works right too. Now, here’s the thing, ladies and gentlemen. This technology is really easy to set up. My grandmother could have done it. But, discretion is the better part of valor, you know. You should list, visibly somewhere on the site, that you are using cookies. Users know that means they are being watched by some robot on a server, for a specific thing or other. They are trusting that you use only retargeting, and do not look at the rest of their viewing habits somehow. Along with this, if your product is very personal in nature, for whatever reason, then you need to prompt users by asking them if they are using a device no one else ever uses. If you don’t watch that, then the user can be embarrassed by retargeted ads offering other users or passersby who see the computer rather … sensitive things. It will be awkward. So much for etiquette. But, is there anything you need to know about the technical side of this? Not really. It doesn’t require a programmer, just someone who can set the website up and hook the ads in. It’s more about choosing a retargeting service that will do it right, and exercise discretion on their end while making recommendations. Because, it’ll be easier for them to dynamically solve that problem than for you to do it from the website. All in all, retargeting marketing has that mild ethical question to it, but, if we can all agree to reveal its use to people, and we’re willing to stick to etiquette , then it’s really no harm done. Just, watch for people who would abuse power like this, because there’s one in every crowd.



James Mello
James is the Lead Author & Editor Product2Market of Blog. James writes for the Product2Market blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Marketing.