Has it ever happened to you that when you are browsing the internet, you see the same ad of a product that you have looked before on most of the websites that you visit? whether it is youtube or any website that you browse. Isn't it frustrating to see the same ads again and again?
I will share my own example, I was looking for a product on a popular website, I purchased the product online, even after more than a month had passed, the advertisement kept on following me. It felt frustrating to see the same ad on every website I visited. My privacy was being invaded and it felt awkward.
For someone who is not aware why this happens, please allow me to enlighten you. To the user, it seems that the advertiser has very big pockets and has huge advertisement spend money that he is spending on so many websites. But that is actually not the case. I will just explain to you why this happens and eight ways how can you get rid of these ads.
This happens because of a concept called “Ads Retargeting”
What is Ads Retargeting / Remarketing?
Ads retargeting is a concept which is used by marketers or website owners in order to show an advertisement of their product/service to their website visitors even when the user has left the website.
Here is how this process takes place:
1. The website owner puts a code on his website that would track a user. For example, if a website owner would use Google Adwords to show ads to their visitors, they would take the code from their Google Adwords account. For Google Adwords: It is called as remarketing tag code. This tag works on both desktop and mobile websites. So, what they do is, they place the code at the bottom of all pages of their website before the closing </body> tag. If their website has a common file for a footer, then they place the code snippet in that file rather than on every page of the website.
In case, someone does advertising via Facebook Ads, then the code is called as Facebook Pixel. The process for adding the code in the website is same.
2. A prospect visits the website
3. Depending upon which type of code the website owner has put on the site, (whether its via facebook or via google), the prospect starts getting tracked if the prospect has visited the website containing that retargeting code or pixel.
4. Here is some background brief information about :
How the advertisers and publishers model works on the Internet?
There are millions of websites on the internet. Those people who own the websites need a way to generate revenue. These people are called as publishers. A service is provided by Google called Google Adsense, through which these people put up ads served by google on their own websites. Google takes money from advertisers via Google Adwords and displays ads contextually on publishers website.
In case of Google, even when the prospect has left the site. Whenever the prospect visits any other website that serves advertisements served by google or even if the prospect searches something on google. He is shown advertisements from the website that he had visited before. Normally, since the person had already visited the site, there is a higher chance of that person getting converted as a customer.
If you are a marketer and want to know why your prospects leave your website, check this.
5. The prospect leaves the website but his information is tracked by the website (for example either via Google's re-targeting tag or Facebook's pixel)
6. The tracked information can stay with these companies for upto several months. When the user visits different websites, he is shown the same advertisment again (since those websites have a contract with Google as because they are publishers via Google Adsense program). When the prospect clicks on the advertisement, he reaches the original website that was showing him ads.
In case of Facebook, whenever the prospect visits facebook, he can be shown the same ad in his facebook account. When he clicks on the ad, he reaches the original website that tracked him.
7. Once the user is back on original website, the chances of his making a purchase increase.
Just as an example, please see below image:
When a user visits a website page that sells blue color shoes, then even after leaving the website, the prospect is shown the same blur color shoe on different websites that he visits. He finally clicks on the ad and reaches the online website, from where he purchases the shoe.
Which companies offer retargeting facility?
Not all advertising companies offer this. Some of the big companies that offer this are:
1. Google via Google Adwords
2. Facebook via Facebook Pixel
4. Twitter via Twitter retargeting pixel
5. Hubspot Retargeting
6. Amazon Ad Retargeting
Is there any difference between Ads Retargeting and Ads Remarketing?
Generally, these terms are used interchangeably. But there is a difference between the two.
Ads Retargeting involves showing ads to potential prospects based on cookies.
Remarketing is generally done by gathering information of users, which can be used to send sales emails.
Do Marketers really benefit from it?
It is a general believe that the conversions rate on prospects that have been re-targeted are much higher. Some websites claim that these rates can be more than double the conversion compared to a prospect that visits a website for the first time.
So, for marketers it is a very effective strategy since they are able to show their ads to those people who have a higher chance of getting converted. Therefore, they can get higher conversions at probably less cost and hence make higher profits. If you are into online marketing, you can start using this one simple free trick to grow your online business.
8 ways to protect yourself from retargeting ads following you over the Internet?
1. You can use incognito mode while browsing
Different browsers offer a private browsing setting also called as incognito mode where your browser would ignore cookies, including ads retargeting cookies and would not record your history.
Firefox & Safari offers – New Private Window
Google chrome offers Incognito mode.
2. You can use a separate ad blocking browser on mobile phone
In case, you are browsing via mobile phone, then you can download the app : Firefox focus. This is offered by Mozilla. I have been personally using this app.
3. Do searches without signing in
Whenever you are searching anything on google, make sure that you are not signed in while you are making the searches. Every search you do is recorded by google and is associated with your email id.
4. You can start using a different search engine called duckduckgo if you are concerned about privacy
I know everybody uses Google as it is the first choice for searching anything online. But there is a very popular search engine called duckduckgo, which does not track your activities online like other major search engines do like google, msn, etc.
I have been personally using duckduckgo since more than a year, I feel safer that it is not tracking me. Sometimes, it does happen that the search results are not as good as that of google. When something like this happens, I search on google without signing in and I have also limited site linking on google, which I have mentioned in below point.
5. Limit or avoid site linking
You can Avoid using the “login with Facebook or Google” feature on websites you visit. On many websites when you have to sign up, they offer a way to sign up via email or via google or facebook. You can sign up directly by email instead of signing up via your google or facebook account. I agree, that it would create a hassle of managing passwords for multiple websites. You can feel more secure that you are not being tracked all the time.
6. Turn off personalization in your google account.
To do so, please go to https://adssettings.google.com/authenticated and click on Turn off Ad personalization.
This is how the screen would look once you have turned off the ads personalization.
7. Delete your search history from your Google account
Google saves all your search history. Even if you had searched for something years ago, google would still have it saved with them unless and until you decide to delete all the information.
To delete the search history data, please follow below steps:
a. Go to google search, Sign in
b. Click on settings
c. Over there, you would find about your search history. Click on search history to delete all your old search history.
d. You would be able to see if your Web & App activity is paused or not, if it is not paused, please do so. It also shows you option on till when to keep your past activity. You can select to keep the activity for 3 months and then delete automatically. Click this option to delete all your past activity data.
You can click on “Choose how long to keep” and then select the option that is most suitable for you. If you click on “keep until I delete manually, google would not give you the option to delete the data now. But if you click on either 6 months or 3 months, then google gives you the option to delete all past activity now. So, I preferred to keep it for 3 months and delete automatically.
8. You can use a VPN (Virtual private network)
To be absolutely secure while browsing internet, you can use a virtual private network. A VPN acts like a shield for you so that you can easily exchange data securely and anonymously over the Internet.
How does a VPN protect you?
A VPN has several advantages:
- It hides and masks your IP address
- A VPN disguises your physical location
- It encrypts data between your computer and the VPN server
- Does not log your browsing activity
There is a small fee for using VPN's and for protecting your privacy.
I hope now you have a better understanding about how marketers use remarketing and retargeting tags/pixels to track users like you and me. And I hope you are able to use some of the ways I have mentioned above and stop invasion of your privacy online.
Did you find this article was helpful? If you liked it, I would request you to please share it with someone you know who might also be helped by knowing about this.