WTF are those banner ads that follow me around, everywhere

We’ve all seen them – those annoying and endlessly repetitive banner adverts that seem to follow us around the web. Also known as re-marketing, its other arm of invasive online advertising and designed by agencies to keep company’s brands in front of you, the site visitor, as you browse your way around the web. It works using cookies to follow audiences, anonymously, all over the Web. Except that most folks don’t feel it’s anonymous (it really is) and see it as quite invasive.

The reason its so popular is that it’s both cheap and effective, both for the client and for the digital agencies who produce, often, some of their lowest quality work. Most websites only convert a small percentage (typically 5-15%) of traffic so retargeting everyone else (i.e. failed conversions) gives a second, third, fourth, nth bite at conversion.

Google is the largest provider of re-targeting both from a capture (cookie drop) and display (served ad) point of view. So, on the face of it not some big evil company trying to trap you. Over the years re-targeting has got a bad reputation as people only associate it with those repetitive display ads that follow you around endlessly after every site visit.

Google recently announced a WordPress plugin that will greatly simplify their implementation on WordPress sites so you can expect to see a lot more re-targeting going on – remember 20% of Internet traffic lands on a WordPress site, suggesting that the average person will visit 20 WordPress sites every month.

However, there is more than one type of re-targeting and many are useful. The annoying re-targeting could also work better if the adverts were nicer, less aggressive and maybe even humourous.

Want to learn more. Here is a good place to start. New technologies are starting to appear that will suit re-targeting, off the top of my head dynamic pricing and educational items for long-lead-in products and services spring to mind.

More reading here.