Home » Alerts » Retargeting a Major threat to Internet User

Are you being followed over the Internet by a smart phone? Or by any other stuff that you searched for on your favorite E-commerce website?

This is a major problem that many people have faced recently while browsing the Internet. What we’re discussing about here is commonly mentioned as ‘Retargeting’ and it is a rapidly growing common way for digital marketers to showcase their ads to possible customers.

Marketers are continuously coming up with new ways to enhance the advertisement frequency and viewership of their promotional ads, and Retargeting is one such way.

But there is some primary privacy concerns mentioned here that regulators and end users should be alert about. Whether this is an objectionable problem for you or not is up to you, as this is a very serious issue.

What is Retargeting?

Firstly, we need to know what Retargeting actually is. It’s a digital advertising method that focuses on users who browse a website but leave without purchasing anything. For most websites, these amounts of visitors are quite high.

These users are shown ads of that specific website, or maybe even of the particular products that they look for, all over the Internet no matter where they go. In effect, this is like virtual irritation.

What is the Working Mechanism of Retargeting?

How this works is quite easy to know. Retargeting tags website users with an identifier, basically a browser cookie or an email pixel. After this, that user is shown ads (for that specific website or a particular searched product) all over the Internet with the support of that identifier. This reminds them of the company’s existence and gives them the obvious push they require to make a buy.

An Example of Retargeting

Let’s take the instance here of Amazon, a popular online shopping website. If you have to visit the site and search for a smart phone, then pretty soon you would start looking for ads of that specific smart phone on numerous websites that you visit for the next few days.no-ads-blocker-ss-1920

From the seller’s point of view, Retargeting reminds user of the item that he/she saw and it might push him/her to buy it. But, if you have no interest in purchasing the item, Retargeting merely annoys you and creep you out. Because it feels like the smart phone and the Amazon are following me around everywhere.

DISCLAIMER – This is not an unlawful act. And we are not criticizing Amazon for the same. Other web portals also follow this practice and we are simply giving an example that a lot of people can connect to.

So what is the Privacy fear?

As mentioned earlier, this is a subjective matter. Some people may think Retargeting useful as they only see advertisements that are beneficial to them. But many users do find this awkward as it feels like they are being followed by the website. The fear that all the data about an individual’s browsing actions, identity and other private data is being stored in a systematic manner and can be misused, leaked or stolen always exists.

Some other troubles that come into play are –

  • If someone else uses your device, they can see the items they have searched for. For example, if you are planning a surprise holiday, Retargeting can ruin that for you.
  • If overdone, Retargeting gives the brand a wrong impact. It’s like you walk into a mall and try on a jacket. When you leave without purchasing it, the salesman runs behind you with the jacket in his hand and keeps showing it to you as you visit other stores.
  • Often, Retargeting shows advertisements for stuff even after they have been bought.

With so much public inspection and dishonesty already surrounding ad privacy and third-party cookies and digital spying, techniques like Retargeting add fuel to the fire and make people doubt. Advertisers should easily accept that not all users will actually buy something from their websites.

This also reminds us that there is a commercial surveillance method in place. This method is huge in scope and violates numerous privacy and liberty problems.

Internet cookies have been used for digital strategizing for a long time in order to modify content for users, particularly when they return to a website or remain logged in. But, Retargeting feels particularly different and much more menacing.

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