2014 trend: #Criteo or #Adroll #Retargeting is the new TV commercial. Consumers will reject it. CTR will fall.

Retargeting = displaying ads showing products recently viewed (or related products to the one recently viewed) on other visited websites through ads.
An image from AdRoll describe the process.

Criteo (a French brand, Cocorico) built a huge success on it. Congrats to them!!

I think retargeting success will kill retargeting as it is today. Why?
Because it's too much!!

If you visit an ecommerce website and see a couple of Nike shoes, then, EVERYWHERE, you'll see shoes you've checked and other ones that look like more or less the same.
Whether you buy it or not, whether you checked it for curiosity or really intent to buy, whether it's a present for your wife or your kid who use the same computer as you (argh!!), you'll see EVERYWHERE these ads: on news websites, on Facebook, soon on Twitter, on search engines, etc.

These ads are like TV commercial. They bet on repetition !
Here is the bet: If somebody checked Air Max Nike shoes, we can expect that showing to this person 100 times a day for 10 days the pair of shoes checked or related ones, the guy will finally take his credit card out of its wallet. Very simple.

But, what about the overall the experience?

If you have nobody around you that have one day criticized these retargeting ads I won't believe you.
People feel stressed by all these ads showing the same product. They feel tracked & spied, like in 1984. Indeed, they wonder how it's possible to track their web browsing behavior like that, without any explicit opt-in. They complain of not having a simple way to stop this ad bombing. And, icing on the cake, if they have bought the retargeted product, they think the brand is very stupid to promote a product they have already bought :)
But it works!

Ok it works but...
First question is: for 1 remarketing ad conversion, how many customers feel bad about it and thus trust a lot less the brand using retargeting?
I bet on "A lot" / "Far more than 1"
Second question: when will it collapse? 
When every brand will use it heavily (not just ecommerce websites, but also news websites media websites, mobile apps, etc.) people will just ignore these ads or reject it, finding ways to disable it. Second threat, it's all based on cookies, a technology more and more limited by the legislation.

So is it the end of retargeting?
As it is today, yes.
But I believe that retargeting will gain in maturity and evolve. Here are trends I see:

  • brands will learn to retarget for a shorter time or less heavily (to avoid the feeling to be carpet bombed of the same ads), 
  • they'll let people click on a "do not retarget me I'm searching a present for my wife" or "do not retarget me I don't want my kids to discover what they'll have for Xmas" buttons :) Joke. I mean brands will let people opt-in or opt-out for remarketing as they do for other marketing channels (emails, SMS, etc.)
  • A consequence of the previous point: with a clear opt-in, brands will be able to use all they know about a person to retarget them with very personal offer (and not a extract of their product catalogue). 
  • they'll not retarget loyal consumers
  • they'll not retatget people that have made a purchase on their website
  • they'll ask people feedbacks about retatgeted products after a certain number of ad display (if this product still interest you?)
  • they'll detect if people were about to buy and thus be a good target for retargeting offers OR if people were just browsing the website by curiosity and thus be a good target for more generic ad banners.

I'm sure Criteo or AdRoll will spend R&D time on these needed evolutions!

PS: My POV are my own for those who know where I work.