One man’s clever marketing is another’s foray into online stalking. Closet online shoe shoppers or fellow clandestine visitors to Yuppiechef, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
You’ve lingered over buying that pair of black stilettos on Zando.com and now they’re literally following you around Cyberspace. Coincidence? I think not…
Smile… you’ve become the willing participant, accomplice and, in the minds of the suspicious stalkee, ‘victim’ of remarketing, a process that WordStream defines as tagging visitors to your website and targeting them with banner ads after they leave your site in an effort to entice them back and hopefully seal the deal.
Remarketing gives you the opportunity to appear, and reappear, in front of those potential customers who have already expressed some interest in your brand. If they visited your website and didn’t ‘convert’, you can pop up in the most interesting places – when they’re reading the news, watching a YouTube video or even checking their Facebook – reminding them to finish the job they started, or showing them something new to further entice them.
Remarketing gives you a second chance to make a first impression, turning bouncers into leads, increasing repeat visits and engagement and improving your SEO; giving them a little push to ‘checkout’ what they were in fact ‘checking out’ in the first place.
For travel brands, remarketing presents a massive opportunity to convert lookers into bookers. In their search for information, travellers are leaving loads of clues about where they want to go, how much they’re willing to spend and why they’re travelling. They’re helping travel marketers profile them and deliver the personalised information across several platforms that will hopefully entice them to buy.
Take it a step further and include packages or services that visitors actually viewed on your website within your ads. This makes the advert even more customised and relevant because they are more likely to notice the package they were ogling during their previous visit to your website.
And a step even further, email retargeting. Daniel Hristov, CEO of Aurasel, a company that offers web-based marketing automation solutions for SMMEs, says the key to success with every online marketing campaign, including sending targeted email blasts to your loyal subscribers, is personalisation through email retargeting which allows companies to create personalised messages for their subscribers based on certain actions or behaviours.
For example, let’s say you just sent a generic email with the latest special to your entire database. Once the first email is sent out, you can re-target your subscribers based on a different set of actions they have or haven’t completed. For example, you can create a personalised email for all those subscribers who opened your email but didn’t visit your website or to all those who missed your special. Furthermore, you can create a schedule for these emails to be sent after different periods of time.
According to Hristov, email retargeting depends on identifying the steps a subscriber needs to take to become a customer and creating personalised content for each one of these steps.
What about POPI?
So would remarketing be legitimate in the eyes of POPI, South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act? POPI, admittedly, has yet to be implemented but will, once rolled out, carry hefty punishments, including a fine of R10m and/or 10 years’ imprisonment for an infringement.
Remarketing by its very nature monitors the behaviour of users and impacts their online privacy.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) explains that POPI only considers information to be ‘personal information’ if it can be used to identify a specific person. So if pieces of information separately cannot point to a specific identity, POPI will not apply. If the collated information can identify a specific person, POPI will apply. And so, of course, POPI applies to remarketing.
In this case, it would be necessary for you to get consent to collect and share the users’ personal information with the third party. The user will need to be made aware of the fact that their transfer of their personal information will occur and where it will be transferred to. Travel companies will hence only be able to place the tracking code from their website on to a third-party website legitimately under POPI if the user consents to the transfer and understands who the third party is and what processing the third party will be doing.
In the world of POPI, Google is defined as an ‘Operator’, an entity that processes personal information on behalf of another entity in terms of a contract or mandate, without coming under the direct authority of that party. In this case, Google is obliged to process the information only upon the authorisation of that party and must treat the information as confidential, maintaining security measures to protect the integrity and confidentiality of the personal information and, if a security breach does occur, the Operator must inform the party immediately.
A description of how you are using remarketing to advertise to them online.
A list of third-party vendors, such as Google, that provide the remarketing service and show your adverts to the user on sites across the Internet.
A list of other third parties to whom the user’s personal information is transferred and for what purpose.
Opt-out information such as Google’s Ads Settings page, which allows users to adjust their preferences for receiving advertising, and The Network Advertising Initiative, which allows web users to opt out of web advertising from NAI Member advertisers.
Remind users that if they do not want to be marketed to, POPI allows them to withdraw their consent at any time, and provide a method (such as writing to an email address) to do so.