Pooja Ahuja Nagpal
May 05, 2014

Is retargeting risking ‘invasion of privacy’?

As consumers evolve, marketers will have to be more nuanced in using this tool, finds Pooja Ahuja Nagpal

Is retargeting risking ‘invasion of privacy’?
While surfing the net, it is not uncommon to see ads relating to the product/service one looked up a while ago. The reason brands continue with it despite risking irritating consumers, is that it works far better than other modes of engaging consumers online.
Sudhir Nair, Senior vice president and head of digital, Grey, explains, “Retargeting is based on a certain hypothesis that if a consumer has done a particular search for a particular product on a portal or a comparison of two products then it is clear that the intent to purchase the product is significantly high. So from that perspective the chances of a consumer completing his purchase process when retargeting is undertaken is very high.”
Marketers use this retargeting not only to generate the first sale but also to engage with consumers over a period of time, to enable repeat purchases. Venkat Mallikarjun, President, Rapp India, says, “We have been running retargeting campaigns and dominantly the intent is to create sales and repeat sales. So, whoever visits our site but does not complete the transaction, we want to target that person. If a person comes in and buys then we hope that he rebuys in some point of time and therefore, we retarget them as well. In both cases, the retargeting campaign is pretty effective, and we are able to generate substantial amount of sales from that. As much as 20 to 30 per cent of sales in any given month come from retargeting.”
Some marketers also cite the ability to build greater salience among a core TG through remarketing as one of its advantages. Karthi Marshan, EVP and head - group marketing, Kotak Mahindra Bank, opines, “Retargeting is incredibly efficient and effective in delivering salience at a very low cost because I am able to hone in sharply on people who seem to have some kind of interest in my brand or my proposition. And I can keep engaging with them up to a point where they are able to take the next step. OTS (opportunity to see) in many senses is the big challenge that we have. So the more OTS I can deliver to a relevant audience, the richer my marketing programme is. And I can deliver higher OTS because of retargeting than I can on some other media.”
Another factor retargeting scores on is on RoI, believes Sabyasachi Mitter, MD, ibs.  Mitter explains, “I think it’s the most important and effective form of running a campaign as far as RoI is concerned. On an average let’s just say if you run a search campaign and the cost per lead/sale is Rs 100 then in a successful retargeting campaign you can reduce the cost to as low as half or to one third. So that’s how important a retargeting campaign is in an overall media mix. Anybody who is in the RoI business cannot not afford to run retargeting.”
Hence, marketers ranging from e-commerce portals, automotive industry, telecom providers, aviation industry, banking sector and even real estate undertake retargeting campaigns extensively over large periods.
However, with the constant monitoring and the retargeting, consumers are slowly waking up to the fact that their every move in the digital world is being watched closely. Prashanth Challapalli, SVP and general manager, iContract, explains, “Certain advertisers keep tracking consumers relentlessly as the business model is built on the insight that ‘I will keep tracking the customer till whenever the media spends are going to last’ - which are normally very deep pockets. So that can get very irritating after a point of time. People are a little tired. As a consumer I myself have seen that there is relentless tracking that happens anywhere you go whether you click on a Facebook ad or you go to their e-commerce site. That’s when the retargeting starts where they keep tracking you for weeks and months on end. So yes, that can get pretty tiring.”
Despite this, Mitter feels that retargeting is the potent marketing tool for the future. He cites that in any media strategy discussion with marketers from banking and retail sectors, around 80 per cent of the time is spent in discussing, fine tuning and perfecting the retargeting strategy and 20 per cent is spent on other strategies.
He surmises, “Every platform has realised the potential of retargeting. Even Facebook today offers retargeting as one new feature that they have - website custom audience - where anyone who has visited your website is targeted on Facebook. Practically, every platform is offering a retargeting option and it is where the future is.”
It is not a tool that marketers can do without. But the nuance of how it is done will have to evolve as consumers evolve, cede digital marketers.
Sudhir Nair, Senior vice president and head of digital, Grey
“At times consumers find it intrusive, because it is like a ghost chasing you around. But it’s not that people are not used to invasive type of advertising. Moreover, any type of advertising is invasive in nature and nobody wants to see it on their own. Retargeting gives better results which is why marketers tend to continue with it.”
Sabyasachi Mitter, MD, ibs
“Brands need to use a little bit of imagination in terms of how you retarget and how long you retarget a person. Everybody who has landed on that page should not be given the same ad or should not be treated as the same consumer and that is where the creativity of the actual media planning ability comes in. People who are evolved will look into what the visitor looked at, how long he looked at it, what else did he looked at. ”
Prashanth Challapalli, SVP and general manager, iContract
“Currently, not many people are protesting but I am sure a lot of them are cheesed off. The digital industry in India is in its infancy right now as it’s just five years old. So consumers are learning; brands are learning. At some point of time consumers might end up slapping brands and that’s when brands will learn or some brands might learn on their own. The learning curve is bound to happen when the industry is so new.”
Venkat Mallik, president, Rapp and Tribal DDB India
“Digitally savvy people who read about privacy policies and know of the stalking that marketers do will figure out that they are being tracked. But if you look the average consumer who is on the internet and not particularly geeky, then I don’t think they are even sensitised to this. Over time this will change but right now I don’t think that that is a significant point.”
Karthi Marshan, EVP and head - group marketing, Kotak Mahindra Bank
“Many brands in India are definitely leveraging this option but where they seem to be failing is where consumers can realise that they are being stalked. That is where brands are losing the plot. Brands need to be more nuanced, sensitive and of course restrained.”
Campaign India