If you’ve ever used Google or another search engine to browse the web for a product or simply to satisfy your curiosity about a question, you’ve probably noticed advertisements related to your past search queries popping up on seemingly unrelated websites. Concerns about internet privacy run rampant in today’s society and it can be alarming to see ads persistently follow you around the internet long after you’ve left a website. The thought of being “tracked” can be unsettling for those concerned about privacy issues. As you peruse the web, you may be asking yourself questions like:
- How much information do these websites really have about me?
- Is my personal and financial information in jeopardy?
Fortunately, internet users shouldn’t be concerned about personal or financial information being threatened. The practice of showing recurring ads to consumers is an internet marketing practice businesses use to increase sales known as remarketing or retargeting.
What is the purpose of remarketing?
Remarketing uses information collected by a company’s Google or other advertising account to present relevant advertisements on a collection of websites that partner with search engines called The Display Network. Businesses use remarketing advertisements to:
- Remind customers about their past interest in a product
- Keep products or services at the forefront of a customer’s mind as they browse the internet
- Encourage customers to return to a previously visited website and complete a purchase
- Suggest additional products or services that may interest customers
Amazon, for example, uses remarketing to advertise to shoppers who have “abandoned” their shopping carts. Oftentimes shoppers will place items in their virtual shopping cart and leave Amazon’s website before completing a purchase. To prompt customers to return, Amazon uses remarketing strategies to display advertisements that remind customers about forgotten products. Below is an infographic from Legal Remarketer that explains the business value of remarketing campaigns.
How do businesses collect remarketing information?
Companies collect browsing information that can be employed in remarketing campaigns targeting previous website visitors by placing a small piece of code on their webpages. This information is stored in the form of a “cookie” on a user’s browser. These cookies or small files of information do not include personal data, but rather information about browsing history on a particular website. This information is stored in a string of encrypted alphanumeric characters that businesses can access and use to determine what pages you visited on their website, not to steal and misuse personal information.
Remarketing and Consumer Privacy Concerns
- How they plan to remarket
While malicious cookies do exist, websites that utilize cookies to employ a remarketing strategy are not looking to take advantage of the customers that make their very business possible- they’re just hoping to make a buck.