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Retargeting Is Just Phase One

By - December 21, 2012

Toward the end of the year, annual predictions come out (I’ve been guilty of this for nearly ten years now). I was perusing these from Triggit founder Zach Coelius, and his ninth one hit me right between the eyes:

Retargeting will be taken out of the tactic box marketers have been myopically placing it into, and instead they will recognize that retargeting is simply the first step to a sophisticated data driven marketing strategy.

Retargeting, or the practice of showing you ads from sites you’ve recently visited, is all over the web these days, and many folks revile the practice. But as Zach points out, retargeting isn’t the end game, it’s just the beginning.

It’s actually a good thing that we as consumers are waking up to the fact that marketers know a lot about us – because we also know a lot about ourselves, and about what we want. Only when we can exchange value for value will advertising move to a new level, and begin to drive commercial experiences that begin to feel right. That will take an informed public that isn’t “creeped out” or dismissive of marketing, but rather engaged and expectant – soon, we will demand that marketers pay for our attention and our data – by providing us better deals, better experiences, and better service. This can only be done via a marketing ecostystem that leverages data, algorithms, and insight at scale. And we are well into building that ecosystem – to my mind, it’s an artifact of humanity that is far larger and more significant than my original idea of the Database of Intentions.

More on that soon, but for now, just a short note to point to Zach’s post. It’s going to be a very exciting year to be in our industry. Expect my predictions, and round up of how I did in 2012, in the coming week or two.

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14 thoughts on “Retargeting Is Just Phase One

  1. Michael Brill says:

    But do marketers really know a lot about us? Does the internet really hold a database of our intentions? Let’s say that every single one of our actions was recorded and made available to anyone with whatever fancy big data analytics predictive modeling machine learning monster they could throw at it. Then what?

    A computer can learn more about me with 3 minutes of questions than it can analyzing the past 15 years of my online activity. It’s not about big data and algorithms and ads, it’s about 1:1 communication facilitated with explicit intent. Make it simple for me to express my intent – explicitly – and the world is a much simpler place.

    • johnbattelle says:

      Well, that’s search. There’s also serendipity, as well as implied intent. We don’t always want to engage in answering questions!

      • Michael Brill says:

        But search isn’t really intent, is it? Search is us taking a relatively rich model of intent and extracting a couple of words and hoping Google figures it out. The more time passes, the weaker the signal because intent is temporal.

        No, you don’t always want to answer questions… but you are very likely to answer questions while you’re in the process of looking for something specific. I’d happily invest 30 seconds providing sufficient detail about what I want if I thought it could materially increase the probability of me finding it. I probably spend more than that just trying to figure out what i should grunt into the search box.

      • jcholman says:

        Great points Michael and John, I believe this dialogue gets at the crux of the equation.. answer me(50%) vs inspire me(25%) vs. educate me(25%) from about.com study. I’ve been working on a ‘local’ search option which allows folks to get answers from real people (that may be considered marketers) in the traditional sense.

        Being able to support or facilitate the action of the user through a ChaCha-like scenario (1:1) or (1:many) or (many:1) based on ‘real relationships’ with the user data (mobile) as context to the intent.

        There was another great discussion around community and search (a week back) called ‘The Business Case for Irrelevance’ which I thought was really interesting and relevant to this conversation. Here’s a link to that posthttp://bit.ly/RcTUKl and I’ve also sourced you guys at my post here! http://bit.ly/UmObCj, Enjoy the dialogue-J

  2. From my user experience “being re-targeted”, re-targeting in its current form is the dumbest form of advertising with wasted dollars.

    Unless re-targeting can read my mind, not my clicks, they will be missing the target 80% of the time. There are gazillion reasons why a user visits a certain site, and purchase intent is often not one of them.

    The funniest thing is when I visit a competitor’s site and I start seeing their ads popping everywhere including when I go to the bathroom. And I say to myself- do they really know how wasted their dollars are.

    • johnbattelle says:

      The thing is, marketers measure their retargeting efforts very closely, and it’s paying off for them in conversions. It’s not going away…I only hope it gets better and I think it will

  3. george says:

    Perhaps retargeting is in its early stages but maybe it could evolve into something better. In its present form, I see it as clutter and an annoying part of my web experience.

    Looking forward to your annual predictions…

  4. [...] John Batelle, most elegantly re-states the use of ‘retargeting’ in social media and I thought his blog post this week was not only extremely relevant, but also very timely.. Retarketing is Just Phase One [...]

  5. I for one am enjoying this evolution. Every year our online experience improves as the technology, search functions and marketer’s ability to discover ways to entice us marches forward. As long as regulatory agencies stay out of it, the future of marketing is open sky.

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  7. Andy Price says:

    As a user, what I really want to see is something very simple: try and sell me stuff I would actually want. When will that happen?