Re-targeting. Evil or Divine Marketing tool?

#digitalmarketing #mooc

Even if I’ve just finished my studies at the University of the People, I’m already enjoying the amazing courses the web offers. I confess, I’m actually enrolled in 5 MOOC courses, since after my Bachelor in Business Administration I distinguish what my favorite topics are. In short, I reveal an insane passion for Digital Marketing and Web Analytics; as a consequence, the Coursera MOOC courses perfectly satisfy my curiosity.

I’ve just finished the second course: “Digital Analytics for Marketing Professionals: Marketing Analytics in Theory, 1 of 6 courses in Digital Marketing from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign”.

I’m satisfied since I passed with a good final grade (92,5%) and I particularly loved the last written assignment. It was about re-targeting and my peers appreciated it, so that I earned a a nice 10.

I’d like to share it together with you, so here you are my story about re-targerting. Enjoy and please, leave a comment.



Re-targeting. Evil or Divine Marketing tool?

I beg your pardon for starting this discussion about re-targeting by using a personal epic fail I experienced some months ago. It means I want to use this example to explain the pitfalls of re-marketing (alternative name of re-targeting) and tackle my “faux-pas”, with a smile on my face (and on yours).

Each time we surf the web, we leave a “stream” of data, numbers, likes, as well as “questions”. We switch our devices on, Google (or Bing or Yahoo) open their innocent windows and we type our daily needs. We get what we want (sometimes quickly, sometimes not), then we forget about the

unequivocal proof we leave behind us. WE forget them, NOT the browsers (Google, Yahoo and Bing); on the contrary, they record our quandaries, with the same fastidiousness the amanuenses monks used in the Novel “The name of the Rose”. Let’s jump again from the Middle Age to Modern days and let’s call it with the name we learned during this “Digital Analytics” course: “raw data collection”.

I was innocent the day I typed the word “corset” and Google replied with a long list of orthopedic corsets. Naturally, I was satisfied with the results, since I had just undergone a surgery and I wanted to purchase such device. I forgot about that.

A few days later, I invited a couple of friends for dinner and since they represent the utmost eCommerce experts I have ever known, we started talking about business. We wanted to find an item on ebay and we opened the home page of the famous auction site. I’ll never forget what happened; a flashing banner invited me to “see your recent researches”. A collection of sexy underwear skimmed in front of our eyes. The guy said: “wow, what are you plans tonight?”.

Shame, shame, shame.

This experience meant a lot to me. Corsets serve both as medical devices and also as articles of clothing. Automated re-targeting doesn’t consider the differences between categories, so the mechanism processes data without “emotional” involvement.

I’ve told how this method affects me as a customer and it was not the best experience. Now I see how it may support my work as a marketer.

For first, as a marketer, it means I’m a human, thus capable of thinking. As an alternative, I could use my analytical skills to obtain quality data that come directly from the source. Not only direct stuff, that’s unique stuff; they represent my guests, they visited me, they looked up a few pages (why, how long?), or just one (why, how long?), they came back (why, how long?), then they moved to another website (competitors? How is their website? Is it better than ours? Easier to browse? More appealing?)..

Slide 7 from our course claims: “New Media . New Data, New opportunities, New Dangers”.

In a nutshell, it means we have a chance to grasp data, a lot of data that answer many questions. So what? comes to our aid and declares: Retargeting works best in conjunction with inbound and outbound marketing or demand generation.” This statement enforces my viewpoint: re-targeting represents “a pain in the neck”.

OK, if I was the devil’s advocate, I could also explain my opinion as a marketer, since I represent both, right? As a marketer, I acknowledge I must carefully manage sensible data and create a strategy (it works in conjunction, right?), not to cause “a pain in the neck” – while my goal was the opposite: sell.


T. Vega. (June, 2013). New Ways Marketers Are Manipulating Data to Influence You. Retrieved at:


Background music: “Money”, by Pink Floyd

Background music: “Hey Joe”, by Jimi Hendrix


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