You are browsing on a website, you check out a few items and then they seem to follow you around – on your social media, Google …everywhere! It happens because when you visit a website it places cookies on your machine to note that you have been to visit, to this page, looking at this product, or clicked on something. Using that information the brand can then retarget or re-market to you through advertising networks.

As you go about your business checking your social media, searching on Google or looking at other sites, this website seems to follow you. You’re not imaging things.

Depending on how personalised they want the ad they can advertise the brand, the category or maybe the exact shoe you were looking at. Some companies are extremely skilled in creating this post visit journey. They may offer you discounts or promotions and can advertise as many times as they would like and in most cases they only pay when someone clicks on the ad.

The way it works for an advertiser (now is the time to confess I do consult on this) is they can set up cookies to create lists which can be as specific as they desire based on your actions. Lets be super clear here though that they don’t know who you are, they just know your device. That’s why in most cases you will find that the follower is limited to the device.

From here the advertiser can chose to retarget you on the Facebook network, Google network or any advertising network. They can also retarget you when you search, so if you have been to ABC bank and ‘cookie-ed’ for visiting home loans and then subsequently visited Google and searched for Insurance, they can retarget you. The advertiser can set up how long they want to push ads to you and how frequently. Depending on how they apply their strategy  retargeting can be either helpful to you, annoying or stalker-like. They want to protect to their brand so it’s not in their interest to upset you.

Does it work? Yes! Retargeting is highly successful, it taps into our behaviour. Typically we research and then we come back and buy something. Because it works it is expensive, even if advertisers only pay when people click, a repeat visit means they are more likely to buy.

Is retargeting a bad thing? It’s a personal choice, personally I prefer to have relevant ads but sometimes it really doesn’t work for me, like when I bought someone a present but have no other desire to go back to that site. But it never lasts for too long. Targeting is based on your behaviour so more often than not it will be relevant to you.

If you really don’t like it you just need to delete your cookies and if you want to get serious refuse cookies. The cookies are browser based so linked to your browser application (such as Chrome, IE or Firefox). To change them you need to go into your browser preference settings. But bear in mind cookies also save some of  your preferences on sites that you visit regularly so you will lose these without cookies. And no cookies does not mean no advertising it just means random advertising.

Thanks Margie for your Q