7 Point Checklist for Retargeting Campaigns That AREN’T Creepy

Online Marketers are Creepy, but they don’t have to be! Last week, I shared the results of an informal survey about banner ads promoting a site or product you recently viewed. More than 90% of the people I spoke with had a distinctly negative view of these ads and the few that liked them were marketers.

However, retargeting does not need to make online marketers creepy. Here are 7 points to keep retargeting from turning you into a creepy marketer.

Frequency Cap

Retargeting ads often run with high frequency caps because the results are good and marketers try to “buy more.” The problem is, you can only buy more by reaching the same people more often, inundating your audience with retargeting. Set your frequency cap at one to two impressions per day.

Opt Out Customers

Do not continue to retarget someone after they have converted. Adding a pixel to a conversion page is an easy step, but don’t forget other pages that would indicate someone has already converted, like client logins.

The experience Jure Klepic commented on last week (see his comment) indicates Hostgator isn’t thinking about how to identify customers. Most likely, they remove people from retargeting when they convert (purchase hosting), this is an easy step and one most providers recommend. However, Hostgator likely didn’t consider the fact customers come to their homepage to login to their account, and did not add an optout pixel to the login process or on customer pages, an easy solution.

Consider Context

Limit your retargeting campaign to content that is contextually relevant or on an adjacent topic (for instance, business content for an enterprise technology offering). For example, most B2B marketing is very out of context on sites like Parents.com or WebMD.com, and drawing your audience back from a personal context to your business offer or content is a significant hurdle, even when you are reaching the right person.

Staying in contextually relevant areas limits the chance your audience feels your banner ads are following them around the web.

Use a Single Provider

You cannot apply a frequency cap if you use more than one provider. If multiple networks are running retargeting, each network will apply the frequency cap separately. A frequency cap of two run with three networks or providers is an effective frequency cap of six!

Restrict Performance Based Buys

Because retargeting is often one of the best performing tactics, performance based advertising buys (buys that either guarantee results or are optimized by the network provider based on results) often use retargeting without a specific lineitem. You can control this by limiting the pages each network’s tracking pixels are placed on.

Be Creative

Consider how you would follow up with a prospect by email or in other channels, and apply that same thinking to the creative you use in retargeting. When implemented correctly, retargeting reaches some of your best prospects, make the investment in creative that positions your offering and addresses potential concerns. Price-based offers are ok, but the same offer repeatedly quickly wears out.


Visit your site regularly from your home computer or mobile to see how you are then retargeted. Assuming all of your buys are with OBA compliant providers (they should be, learn more at www.aboutads.info), you can easily tell what provider is running an ad.

Bonus: Add an Opt Out

I have never seen this done, but it would be simple to execute. Add a small Opt Out button to your banner that links to a page that includes your optout pixel and a brief explanation of how they just opted out.

Your Turn

As an individual, are these steps enough to make retargeting ads acceptable? As a marketer, is this too restrictive? What other steps do marketers need to take to limit the negative impact of retargeting ads.

Share your view in the comments below or with my on Twitter (@wittlake).

Commenting was recently changed to use Disqus’s comment platform. If you do not have a Disqus account, add your comment and click “Post As…” to comment as a guest.

Get every post delivered directly to your inbox.

Your email address will not be shared or sold. I hate spam too.