While media, social marketing, and product placement are all arms of the consumer media machine, marketing is really the set of gears that drives it. That’s why we at Postconsumers believe that an important part of learning to find the satisfaction of enough by shedding addictive consumerism is understanding the marketing tactics that are being used on you. With the use of big data, many marketing tactics have become so smooth and seamless that you don’t even know that they’re being applied to you. They’re also increasing significantly in effectiveness. Remarketing is a method that, while it may be more obvious than others, combines smoothness, data and effectiveness into one tool that digital marketers love.

Chances Are That You’re Exposed to Remarketing Every Time That You’re Online

It’s likely that you’ve been exposed to remarketing many times and just not realized that it was a tactic that has a name. Close your eyes and think back to the last time that you were on Facebook (for some of you, that was likely just five minutes ago!). Now think through the ads that were displayed to you while you were on Facebook if you noticed or can remember them. How many of them were ads for websites that you had recently visited or products that you had recently looked at online. This is called a remarketing campaign because it, obviously, markets to you again a product or digital destination that you had already expressed interest in.

The Logic Behind Remarketing

The marketing logic behind remarketing revolves around something called “number of customer touches.” The idea is that most people do not convert to a sale, sign-up or transaction of any other kind until they’ve seen, interacted with or been reminded of the potential sale, sign-up or transaction a number of times. Often that number is somewhere around three, but it can often escalate as people hit resistance points such as price or how usable a website is. For many years, digital marketers primarily only had email as a main way to increase the number of touches. As smartphones became more prevalent, the ability to get customers or users to download an app and receive push notifications added another channel. But the advent of remarketing meant that there was not only another channel in the form of digital display but also that the channel could be very specific to the user’s action on the website.

How Effective is Remarketing?

The answer is simple: it’s very effective. Part of what keeps people from purchasing products or signing-up for services initially are the very points of resistance we mentioned above:  price point, usability, shipping costs, concerns about the product or service. In many cases, those points of resistance are very valid and they’re exactly the types of things that we at Postconsumers encourage you to think about in order to question your purchasing process, avoid impulse purchases and be more reflective about the “stuff” that you truly want or need as opposed to that which the consumer media machine convinces you to buy. Of course, marketers want the opposite. The less that you pay attention to those initial points of resistance the more effective they will be at converting you to a purchase or other action.  What data has told them is that the more times they put something that you “want” in front of your face, the more you will talk yourself out of your points of resistance.  The amount of money being spent on remarketing annually supports the idea that you will!

The Technology (and Privacy) Behind Remarketing

How is the data for remarketing being collected? Primarily, companies like AdRoll use cookie technology to track where you’ve been on the web. But that’s not the only scenario. Google has launched its own remarketing service, which uses data shared by the websites that you visit when they use a free service like Google Analytics. It’s true that turning off your cookies can negate some remarketing campaigns, but much of the other data sharing is technically out of your control. Why is that? Because by default when you use a website, you agree to the posted terms and conditions. Almost all website terms and conditions include clauses about data sharing with third party apps at this point.

Combatting Remarketing: What Can You Do?

While it’s increasingly difficult to combat remarketing, there are two steps that you can take to dramatically decrease your exposure to it.

More Difficult: Turn Off Your Cookies

As we mentioned above, turning off your browser cookies will reduce the amount of data that remarketers can collect and use. However, in most cases it will make browsing and using various websites more difficult and cumbersome.

Easier: Browse Using an Incognito Window in Chrome

If you’re not using Chrome as your browser, we can’t recommend it enough. And one of the reasons we can’t recommend it enough is because of the fantastic “incognito window” function. When you browse in an incognito window, data isn’t saved. Therefore, when you go back to your main window, marketers can’t target you while you’re on sites such as Facebook.

Of course, the best defense to remarketing is just to remain aware and make wise choices. The further you get on your journey to the satisfaction of enough, the easier this will be!

Did we miss a way that re-targeting is impacting the consumer machine? Tell us about it on the social media channels below.

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Photo Credit: Ad_Media via Flickr