Thursday, February 14, 2013

Help! My husband is being stalked by gas ranges.

It all started when my GE range broke.  (Note to GE:  I’m not sure why you would ruin your hard won reputation by putting your name on a piece of junk.  But I do know that I will never buy another GE product again.)

While I did most of my research on my own computer, one night I must have used his and as a result he started receiving those ads that follow you around the internet (called retargeting).   I can see why advertisers have embraced this technology.  Conceptually the idea makes sense, since apparently only 2% of shoppers actually buy on a first visit.  (2013)  But it has occurred to me that while I have had many ads following me lately the advertisers have wasted their money.  Let me recap why.

1. I am done with my new range research.  My next step is to go to a store to check out the possibilities in person.  Continuing to send me ads now is a waste of money. 

2. I am also being stalked by swim goggles.  In this case since the first supplier I checked did not have the exact item I wanted, I bought them from someone else.  Again sending me ads now is a waste of money.

3. Someone I know told me that they were buying a piece of artwork.  I visited the artist’s website to check out his work.  I never had any intention of buying any.  So, that’s more money wasted.

4. I am being stalked by lamps because I bought one a few months ago.  In this case the company is sending me ads for models that I checked out and rejected in favor of the one I bought.

5. Recently I searched for sneakers that are out-of-stock.  For some odd reason Zappos thought this would be a good time to send me ads for the sandals I looked at last summer.  Hmm.  I already bought those as well.

To date, I have never bought anything due to this type of advertising.  My husband points out that if they told him as they stalked him that they had lowered the price of the item he had checked out then he might be interested – assuming that he hadn’t already bought it.  I think that’s a good idea.

What about you?  Have you bought anything based on retargeted ads?  If they told you the item was on sale, would you?

(2013) How Retargeting Works.  Retrieved February 14, 2013, from


  1. Absolutely. I import products from abroad and source all of my items online. As a result of sourcing online, my supplier finds it necessary to pitch me every product under the sun - and its tracked from site to site. I think the genius that is Google Ads is their network of participating sites/advertisers that host Google Ad content.

    I've used Google Ads in the past as it makes the process of blogs advertising with them very easy. As a blogger one would simply enable their ad space within their respective them and copy and paste the code from Google. Sponsors are paid commission on leads generated from their sites. Additionally, Google Ads does a decent job at targeting the ads based on the content of the sponsored site. However, its not atypical that a visitor could see a "green" sneaker ad on a site that is built around environmental issues.

    The online advertising network space has been consolidating with many of the acquisitions being done by Google. Mobile is the next frontier for online retargeted advertising. I'm beginning to see it now with certain apps that I use.

  2. That sounds really annoying. And quite frankly, it has never worked on me. It's the equivalent of a sales person following me around in a store. I've never bought anything from a store when I've noticed someone watching me, and what they think may be subtle, but is considered hounding. The retargeting issue brings up a privacy concern. Why should something follow me around like a nuisance if I checked it out ONCE? If I like something, I will go back to it. I don't need constant reminders of what I may have "passed up." Unfortunately, I have learned to filter out pop-up ads all over the internet now, during my browsing experience. It is a shame because if something is on sale, I probably no longer notice it.

  3. I actually love your husband's idea of lowering the price if a consumer hasn't bought on the site yet. I totally agree with you that it is very annoying, especially when you already purchased the item you were looking for; it is certainly a waste of money.

    That being said, 95% of everything in my life is purchased online. Therefore, someone like me can actually benefit from these ads. I remember, quite recently, an ad popped up for Cole Haan, which is one of my favorite brands. At the time, I was actually looking for a pair of shoes and hadn't gotten to Cole Haan yet. When I saw the ad, I clicked on it immediately and did buy a pair of shoes. I haven't seen a Cole Haan ad since the purchase. I think there's something to be said about favorite brands in this case. I never would've clicked if I didn't know the brand. Maybe, there's merit in retargeting brand fanatics for repeat business, but not necessarily to gain new business. Just a thought...

  4. I’m the buyer who plans purchase ahead: I make list of specific items through the season and wait for sales. Since I spend generous time on research and price checking, it’s not hard to catch me with targeted ads before I reach the check out. However at this stage no general suggestion impress me. I already know what I want.

    I have never purchased anything through those ads. The only time I couldn’t resist clicking, was for a search engine link (does it count?). Price reduction updates would interest me, if they come at the right time and upon authorized request.

    “Advertising harassment” is annoying, but main concern of mine is the privacy intrusion going on without my awareness. Tracking on-line activity without users consent is wrong. Doing so for commercial purposes is a rip off.

  5. I have purchased many things online especially during the holidays. Most things were for other people so the retargeting just reminded me of them and not to make another purchase. The retargeting can get unbearable when they use your email to tell you of their latest sale.

    Then I was reminded of the unsubscribe option and that seemed to work for certain retailers. I understand the need for statistics and analytics but do feel taken advantage of.

    Susan DiBello

  6. I really do not like retargeting. I’m firmly against ads following me around. I’ve been a victim of retargeting after I’ve researched products. Ads that retarget are very different than random pop-up ads. I’ve been pretty successful in blocking pop-up ads. The few pop-up ads that get through, I’ve been able to just ignore.

    Whenever I consider an online purchase, I research the product first. This always includes product review feedback. Many times I learn through customer feedback that products may not be as great as they advertise. I find this to be especially true whenever I consider an infomercial product. The problem is the ad for that product then shows up on every site I visit. I immediately feel cyber stalked and I doubt that is what the manufacturer intends, but that’s how I end up feeling. It makes you feel that “big brother” IS watching. But seriously, retargeting is far more intrusive than a regular pop-up ad. It means that a site I’ve visited has decided to follow me with the hopes of “encouraging” a purchase out of me. It doesn’t work. It’s a waste of their money, especially after I’ve learned that a product is not made well or breaks easily. Any time I’m hit with a retargeting ad, I always delete all cookies before I log off. I do this in the hopes of getting the prying eyes off of me.

  7. I find myself having the same issue with several products from QSR’s to hair care to insurance and over-the-counter medication. Many brands are targeting me because of searches I perform on my desktop at work (just to note: if I were to buy something, it would most likely be browsing on my iPad at home and more importantly on a store’s app, not the internet.)
    A major part of my role at work is to do research on a company such as their background, product launches, competitors’ products, current ads, their management’s biographies, etc. The next day or in the following weeks I begin to notice retargeted ads coming across my desktop. These companies are spending their money to target someone who has no interest in making an actual purchase of their product and very much less because of something that pops up on the side of my screen.
    To your husband’s point, if a company goes out of their way to show me that a product I viewed went on sale, given it was a search I did for myself not for work, I would be much more inclined to make an impulsive purchase. A website I frequent does this effectively for me. I put items in my shopping bag and when they get marked down, I receive a notification, usually via email- not a retargeted ad that it has been marked down. That is my ultimate weakness- finding a great “deal” from my favorite website. It makes it that much better when they bring it to my attention. I appreciate this type of advertising, having it directed to me via an email because i have given them my email. It is not a shot in the dark by using a retargeted ad to try to get my attention.

  8. I quit buying something online after botherd by retargeting before. I don't hear any state that those ads help us. It is just annoying and reduces our buying intention.But sometimes I check the ads for a brand I like because I can get cheaper one.
    I think your husband's idea is good.If I can get discount,I'll try to buy through the ads but only for not that important things like daily commodity and never cloths,glasses or something like that.