Sean Gordon
Sean Gordon 27 August 2015
Categories Ecommerce

Retargeting: A More Personalized Shopping Experience?

To help distinguish ads and create a more personalized shopping experience, a new form of behavioral marketing is being used.

With online shopping trend increasing, so is the amount of advertising opportunities available.


Every webpage represents a new potential canvas to display an advertising graphic or banner. To help distinguish ads and create a more personalized shopping experience, a new form of behavioral marketing is being used. Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a form of advertising that uses online tracking to present relevant material to consumers across their web viewing experience. The Google support page describes how retargeting “helps reconnect with by showing relevant ads as they browse the web, as they use mobile apps, or as they search on Google.”

How Does Retargeting Work?

The way retargeting works is quite simple. Every time the consumer visits a website, that website leaves a piece of code on a user’s browser known as a cookie. This cookie is what allows the seller to specifically target a consumer with interest based ads. Once the cookie is placed, the retargeting seller creates an advertisement on an unrelated page that the consumer visits. This means that if a consumer visits a webpage related to buying a new Fender guitar, they will experience ads related to guitars and similar products as they begin to visit other webpages of unrelated interests.


Effective retargeting has many commercial benefits. The most immediate positive aspect of retargeting is lead generation. Through this collective data mining, the seller is able to identify potential consumers who are interested in their product. This direct interest makes it easier for the seller to find consumers in the marketplace. Not only that, but the seller is able to identify consumers with a direct interest in the product or brand.


Consumers who have been targeted with these advertisements are 70% more likely to make a purchase of said product. Not only does retargeting benefit the seller, but it is also advantageous to the consumer as well. Unnecessary ads are omitted in favor of more relevant, individual consumer based material. This saves time for the consumer. Instead of having to search for other similar products, retargeting allow similar products to be advertised.


While there are many positive aspects associated with retargeting, it isn’t without concern. Today, one of the major concerns of online shoppers is that of privacy. Consumers want to feel like they can share their information and interest in a safe, secure environment. Some may feel uncomfortable sharing their interests if this information is being tracked and used for ad based resources. They may not want businesses to follow their shopping habits.

Another problem with retargeting is the possibility of over saturation. Consumers are discouraged from buying something if they are retargeted with the same advertisement repeated times. Some may develop negative perspectives of the product ads and business brands if they feel like they are being bombarded with over bearing ads.


In a column for Marketing Land, Alex Le Page describes how “overuse, combined with sensational headlines about how easy it is for hackers to steal your personal information, leads people to become suspicious.”

Opt-Out Options

Because of the privacy issues raised by using retargeting, some companies have begun introducing opt-out options for those who are interested in not sharing their information. Google gives its users the opportunity to manage their retargeting settings and preferences. Users are allowed to view interest categories associated with retargeting ads and they are given the opportunity to add or remove content of their choosing. This allows the consumer to limit what information is being disseminated.

At the same time, the consumer will still be dealing with advertisements but now they won’t be related to the consumer’s personal shopping interests. This may make the op-out option seem like an even worse choice.

Future Directions

Retargeting is reshaping the future of the online shopping experience. As data mining become more sophisticated, the consumer will enjoy a more personalized shopping experience. The current model of browser based cookies may give way to something more algorithm based. This move would hopefully alleviate some of the privacy and security issues associated with the current model. But until that happens, both sellers and consumers are figuring out the best way to create a personalized web buying experience without sacrificing personal security.


Author: Sean Gordon is the CEO of Intelliverse, a global leader in enterprise cloud software and managed services.


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