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Case Analysis: Remarketing Is Here To Stay

Contextualising the advertisements a person sees on the Internet is the (Un) Holy Grail of marketing

Photo Credit : Tarun Guota


Uber, world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles; Facebook, world’s most popular media owner, creates no content; OYO Rooms, India’s biggest hotel brand, does not own a single room.

Welcome to the digital age. With changing consumer-media consumption habit, advertising is also evolving. Gone are the days when one could call upon golden “Rule of 3”, which says reach out to the consumer three times and you will be done. These are the times when consumers want everything, and they want it now.

‘Choice overload’ for consumers is increasing exponentially as well. The number of choices for a consumer from a good supermarket has increased from 65 in the 1950s to more than 360 in 2004, and would be well over 500 today. Explosion of digital brands have further led to the rise of brands that are trying to compete for our wallet- and mind-share. Advertisers are trying whatever they can to entice consumers. Consumers are exposed to almost 10 times more ads in a day — from around 500 in 1970s to almost 5,000 ads today. How do we ensure that they purchase what we have to sell?

There’s an old saying, ‘Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half’. Today, roughly 98 per cent traffic on a website goes without any action — a person just visits and goes. Sounds like the old window-shopping problem, right? But what if you could stop the person as they were about to leave and say, ‘We have got that pink shade of glasses, which you have been looking for, at a discount of 25 per cent!’ Would the consumer stay back? The probability is high. This is re-marketing — the answer that technology has made available today in the digital space and something that is every advertiser’s delight.

Advertising, in general, has always pandered to consumers and their habits, and it has always been the unwanted necessity. A consumer’s reaction to ads have been, historically, an aberration as the mass media was non-responsive and viewing was forced. However, re-marketing has the power to contextualise the ads that a person sees. Imagine seeing an ad for a gift for a loved one, or getting a 10 per cent additional off on a product when you are back on the Internet after four hours of putting your products in a website’s cart.

Digital advertising is changing rapidly, and the surge in use of the Internet in roughly a decade is something that television took five decades to achieve. We are talking about the early years of advertising on the Internet as well. There are tonnes of innovations and best practices that are yet to come so that they can regulate, or even put guidelines for saving ‘cookies’ and then showing ads. Remember cigarette ads were quite prevalent for two decades before being banned in 1971 (in the US).

Amrita is right when she says that our privacy is invaded quite a few times and ads can embarrass a person, especially when you have a kid sharing the laptop. There are many features available now to avoid that situation: For example, Adblock allows users to block any form of ad. While this benefits the consumers, a lot of websites have stopped showing content to viewers till they pay a small amount of money to sustain the functioning of the website. Even YouTube is experimenting with YouTube Red, a paid, ad-free subscription service. ‘Opt-outs’ from ads are getting bigger and bolder now, thanks to laws in the US, while India is still to catch up. But work is in progress.

While Amrita is justified in being scared by seeing such stalkers in the form of advertisements, she should also remember that unfortunately, the advertising money is what helps websites and web portals sustain themselves. Consumers have evolved so much that they have stopped clicking on display banners and even on links.

Hence, we need to work towards ensuring the ads that Amrita sees are of interest to her. Regulations and best practices are a must for anyone and everyone in digital marketing to ensure they do not slip up in providing consumers a good experience. Because we all know how difficult it is to appease a consumer in this age of consumer delight.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Anshul Sushil

The writer is co-founder and CEO, BoringBrands, which specializes in integrated branding and marketing communications for global startups

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