Please let me set the stage.
Ad re-targeting is driving me fucking crazy.
For those who don’t know this term, re-targeting is the process advertisers and ad networks use to track you on the internet so that if you land on a website, say for example Coca-Cola’s site, you’ll then start seeing Coca-Cola ads on a ton of other websites you visit that show ads from that same ad network.
Since Google and its Adsense block are on a ton of websites, it ends up feeling like Coca-Cola is EVERYWHERE. Even though if your friend visited those same websites, they might not see those Coca-Cola ads, if they’ve never visited cocacola.com.
My problem isn’t that re-targeting exists. In fact, as a marketer myself and as someone who has spent thousands and thousands of dollars on ads from places like Google and Facebook, I know very well how powerful something like re-targeting can be.
Re-targeting is extremely effective. Why?
Because it helps marketers achieve one of marketing’s oldest rules.
The Rule of 7.
The Rule of 7 is a simple heuristic that on average a customer needs to see your brand’s message 7 times before they make a purchase from you.
Re-targeting makes sure you do in fact keep seeing that marketing message as many times as possible.
Here’s the rub though which I’m sure you can relate to.
Ever watch television and occasionally notice a certain company that is advertising on every single commercial break? Has that ever been a company you have absolutely no desire to make a purchase from?
Perhaps you’re 20 years old with no history of incontinence and yet there’s an adult diaper commercial playing over and over and over.
Or you work for an insurance company and already get a great deal on that insurance company’s product. There is no way another insurance company could pull you out of your current situation. But on every single commercial break you have to watch a competing insurance company’s advertising.
Hulu is great at this by the way. Showing you the same irrelevant commercial over and over and over. Which feels especially great considering they do it for people who even pay a subscription for Hulu Plus. Thanks Hulu!
At that point, you start feeling like you now have motive for murder.
Google, I’ve finally had enough. I’ve resisted for so many years on installing Adblock. Adblock is a plugin for your web browser that basically eliminates the ads you’d see on many of the websites you visit. It’s free, and does a very good job.
But I’ve always felt slightly bad at the thought of installing it. These ads are how publishers and advertisers try and make money while they provide me a ton of free stuff on the internet.
But after the constant barrage of ads from companies I have absolutely no intention of ever doing business with, I Just Can’t Take It Anymore.
So I installed Adblock. Getting rid of practically all ads from my browsing experience.
But then I had some second thoughts. What if I could create a compromise?
One thing I could do would be to tell Google and its advertisers to stop tracking me, effectively turning off re-targeting.
That is a setting at Google you can find after clicking around a bit. The problem with this is that sometimes a re-targeted ad is a good thing, if it is from a company whose site I’ve visited and actually intend to do business with.
Wouldn’t then it be great if I could just tell Google “Hey stop showing me this particular ad?”
But Google doesn’t have that feature. So I created a proof of concept called: Compromise.
It’s a Chrome extension.
Installing it gives you a “curtains” link next to text and image ads that Google serves.
“It’s curtains for you, Dr. Horrible.” :)
Clicking on “curtains” removes the ad, and stores its url in your browser’s Local Storage so that when you view the ad again on another site, that specific ad will be hidden.
You can also grab the source on Github if you want to fool around with improving it.
Please let me know if you find it useful at all, and it’ll motivate me to keep working on it.
P.S. I’d be insanely honored if you followed me on Twitter, here.