Why Is This Pair of Shoes Following Me Across the Internet? (Remarketing, Explained.)

If you’re like most people, you probably shop online. It’s getting easier and easier to do this, as it’s now optimized for computers, tablets, and cell phones. And if you’ve online shopped, then you’re probably doing a lot of browsing, clicking on whatever products look great to you, and familiarizing yourself with the brands that you feel you can “vibe” with. You’ve most likely had an experience where you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, and the items you were just looking at or the brands they’re from pop up in the form of an advertisement. Then you head to another website, and the same ad shows up. And again, and again. Maybe you chalked it up to coincidence, as I did before I developed a passion for marketing. But alas, it’s not a coincidence! It’s just another brilliant way for brands to connect with the audiences that they “vibe” with in return.

This technique, unsurprisingly, is called remarketing. It might sound complicated, but it’s actually a pretty cool and simple concept. Most websites have a discrete pixel that drops a cookie into the cache of the browser. This gives the brand a way to see who’s spending a lot of time on their website, seeking out and frequenting their content, and browsing or purchasing their products. The idea behind remarketing is to not waste time or money advertising to those who aren’t engaging with the brand, but to directly engage and remind those who have already expressed interest once again. So that pair of shoes you loved but just couldn’t justify purchasing? They’re showing up on your Facebook feed as a reminder to #treatyoself. The puppies you’ve looked at in your quest to find the perfect addition to your family? They’re showing up as a reminder to take them home with you (by the way— it’s puppy season! Be sure to think rescue first!)

So the next time you’re browsing, check out the advertisements on your screen. Take note of ones that might be from remarketing campaigns, and appreciate them! Like carefully curating your list of follow-ees on Instagram to make sure they’re all people you care about, you’re seeing advertisements from the brands you care about. It’s honestly an amazing feature, and we can’t wait to see its future

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