The curse of remarketing. A Halloween horror story.

The remarketing beastLike some terrible sudden adolescence, my Facebook page has sprouted hair. I shudder every time I look at it. And it’s not just Facebook. A tide of brown fur is spreading. Every page I look at online has a hairy brown edge or a thick tuft of black, brown or even green hair lurking next to the words I’m trying to read. My internet looks badly in need of a bikini wax.

The reason? Three days ago I searched Google for knitting wool and now I’m being stalked by a hairy beast. Everywhere I look the furry remarketing monster is trying to get me to buy wool, and it’s really getting on my nerves. I’d even bought some of it at the start and I’m still being stalked!

I know – I’m a marketer but I’m going to say it anyway – I HATE remarketing. I also know some of you say you like it and see great results from it, as marketers, but as a PERSON it drives me CRAZY! And I don’t think I’m alone.

Stalked by remarketing

People don’t like it.

This is what Google Adwords says about remarketing.

“Remarketing can help you reach people who have previously visited your website.”

Like me.

“You can even show these previous visitors ads that are tailored to them based on which sections of your site they visited”

Yep, like me. I visited the furry wool section and the ads I’m getting are all heavily furred.

“Your ads could appear to them as they browse other sites that are part of the Google Display Network or as they search for terms related to your products on Google.”

Or in my case, absolutely bloody everywhere.

Relentless, in your face, irritating, remarketing is everything that gives marketing a bad name, and some. Not useful, entertaining, or beautiful to me, as a person. And it’s putting me off those companies all together.

It’s enough to make you run screaming from the web; another example of marketers reverting to type. If we as PEOPLE hate it this much is it sustainable? NOT marketing I love.

I want this marketing horror story to stop.

How about you? Remarketing – creepy horror story or marketer’s wet dream?

Other content you might like:

(Visited 250 times, 1 visits today)


  1. Emily King

    After a lengthy debate on a LinkedIn Group about remarketing and other online privacy concerns, I was unable to convince a group of marketers that it’s something that regular people are tired and fed-up with.

    Even referring them to Wired UK’s front page article for November wasn’t enough to convince them it was something that was growing quickly into a tactic that could be more than a nuisance. The London Evening Standard has a good summary of the article:

  2. David Shaw

    Really good post and very timely. I think people do realise what’s going on and it’s just technology for lazy marketers. Too many people are still looking for shortcuts instead of looking to build relationships. There is still a lot of old techniques and language being used in marketing today which is simply out of touch and out of date with modern and savvy consumers.

  3. Sharon Tanton

    Thanks Emily and David. I’ll look out that article. Maybe I’m just seeing bad remarketing, but I’ve yet to see it done well. It’s only ever felt a nuisance whenever and wherever it’s appeared – and those times are getting more and more frequent.
    I can see the potential of a good and helpful idea in remarketing – serve people up with more of the content they’re interested in, keep a relationship going with a warm lead – but I’ve only ever experienced it as ‘shove some really cheap nasty ads over every page she looks at.’ And I don’t like it!

  4. Henry Alpert

    My comment isn’t about remarketing, but it got me thinking about another online tactic that may be effective but many find annoying. I dislike the pop-up calls-to-action that almost immediately obscure an article I’m reading to bug me to sign up for a newsletter or something. Unless I’m really curious about that article, I’ll click away from the entire site, not just close the box. And I’ve personally never signed up for a newsletter or for more info on a pop-up box.

  5. Sharon Tanton

    Thanks for commenting Henry. I’m with you on the pop-up boxes, and like you, unless they’re hiding something I’m desperate to read, (and it usually isn’t) I leave the whole site too. As marketers we need to be so careful to get the balance right. Clear calls to action are one thing – screaming in the face of your reader are quite another. Just because we can use all these tactics now doesn’t mean we should!

  6. Sonja Jefferson

    Thanks Mick – and that was back in 2011. Has the summer of free content love ended? We’ve left a trail all over the web and now (some) marketers have tracked us and pounced. Is there a way to use remarketing without annoying the hell out of people?

  7. Jane

    I had enough. I now use adblockers. Cleans up my browsing experience. Stops remarketing. Stops pop-ups. Problem solved. Except on Twitter.

    • Sharon Tanton

      Thanks for commenting Jane, that sounds a sensible way forward. I’m not sure what the answer is with Twitter either – do let me know if you find one!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.