I attended a Google webinar earlier this week on remarketing and very powerful it was. Just to make sure we are all talking about the same thing, remarketing is where you use your advertising, in this case Adwords, to get in front of visitors who have already visited your website for a second time. So if visitor A had visited your site and then goes off and visits a site on Google’s Display Network, then your ad will appear. If you are looking for information and visiting lots of content sites that display Google Ads, then ad may even follow you around.
Now there is no doubt that remarketing is a powerful marketing tool. Every advertiser knows that the more times a prospective customer sees a name and becomes familiar with it the more likely they are to buy from it. And so long as your website includes the correct private policy information, then it is perfectly legal. But is remarketing entirely ethical?
Google 10 points
Google’s 10 point corporate philosophy says “You can make money without being evil” often misquoted as ‘do no evil’. I certainly wouldn’t say that remarketing is evil, far from it. It may be aggressive but not evil.
However, going right to the beginning of Google, Paul Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, is reported to have come up with ‘Don’t be evil’ as a sort of information slogan for the new company. He also added, and I am quoting from wikepedia here, it was “a bit of a jab at a lot of other companies, especially our competitors, who at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users to some extent” Here I do think Google has (again) fallen short of its lofty ideals.
Google, in my view, is also inconsistent. It promotes the use of remarketing, provides keyword data to Adwords data, but declines to provide keyword data in organic search results on the grounds of privacy. I’ve never understood how it squares that circle.