Are PPC Ads Following You?

Telling people what I do for a living has always been a bit difficult. If I say that I do pay-per-click management they ask me how I could possibly spend all day managing “paper clips.” If I tell them that I am responsible for the ads on their Google search results, I get a groan followed by “You’re that guy.” After explaining in more detail, I usually have a very intelligent conversation and people are fascinated at how interesting PPC advertising is. But I’ve noticed that more and more people are mentioning that they feel “creeped out” by the ads they see; like they’re being followed. But are they?

In short, yes, they probably are. This tactic has been around for a few years and is commonly referred to as retargeting or remarketing.

How Does Remarketing Work?

In March 2012, I’m going to be speaking at Conversion Conference in San Fransisco so I’ve visited the Conversion Conference site several times to review the agenda, register and make travel arrangements. Today, I noticed the following advertisement upon my visit here to Small Business Trends:


This ad is targeted to me because I’ve been to the site and have the cookie on my browser. Here is the technical explanation:

  • The site owner places a snippet of code on their website.
  • Site visitors have a cookie placed on their browser when they visit the website.
  • The advertiser creates ads and targets all users with the cookie on their browser.
  • Any site using Google to serve ads can then show targeted ads when the cookie is detected.

How Can This Help Your SMB?

According to a post by last year, a 50% bounce rate is average. That means half of your visitors leave after viewing only one page. They say you only get one chance to make a first impression and a high bounce rate may indicate you’re not making the best impression. However, utilizing remarketing allows you to make it up to them. Offer them a discount, remind them of your free offers, or emphasize different benefits.

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Don’t Be Creepy

When creating your ads, be careful not to be creepy. While you may want to remind them that they were on your site, the average user doesn’t understand how remarketing works. They just see your ads in places they might not expect it. And don’t overdo the frequency. Most platforms, Google included, allow you to set a frequency cap so they only see your ad a certain number of times/day. This helps decrease the creepiness a lot.

In the end, this is a chance to bring back some of the lost sheep that you worked so hard to get in the first place – even if it does require you to follow them around.


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