The New York Times article published this morning, “Retargeting Ads Follow Surfers to Other Sites“, does a good job of laying out a number of issues that our industry must address. At TellApart, we believe that we can make ads that are actually useful and that this sort of displeasure can be mitigated by commitment to one idea: respect for the consumer.
If you read Ms. Matlin’s first quote in the article or the sentiments of the many commenters, a common theme emerges: they are highly annoyed by the number of Zappos ads they’ve seen and the fact that they continue to see them well after their purchase decisions have been made.
Indeed, it doesn’t matter how well crafted the message is… hounding a consumer will only lead to frustration and contempt. We firmly believe this would have been a non-issue if Zappos’ vendor would have shown restraint in the number of ads they chose to show per user.
Aside from the obvious & staid options mentioned by the Times’ commenters (opt-out, clear cookies, use Adblock), how do advertisers show respect for their consumers in this new world of display advertising? TellApart recommends and commits to the following:
1) Don’t hound.
Use frequency management judiciously. At TellApart, our clients’ users see an average of just two ads per day during the handful of days they are in market for a given product or service. This is far fewer than the dozens of Zappos ads per day (for weeks on end) with which these users are so annoyed.
2) Focus on truly engaged shoppers.
There are many data points that must be combined to know if a consumer is truly interested in a given product or is just browsing: number of pageviews, time spent on site, average conversion rate per product considered, whether the user is a new or repeat visitor, etc. Together, a strong, computer-modeled analysis of this data will help get ads in front of users who care and prevent the irritation of those who don’t.
3) Drive clicks that convert.
Instead of trying to push maximum impressions or even maximum clicks from these ads, advertisers should demand the highest number of conversions for the lowest number of impressions possible. Only post-click conversions should be counted, and the experience should be optimized to drive one converting click per user. This keeps a majority of users engaged and happy while minimizing the “noise” that truly disinterested users must endure.
4) Reward the user.
Some of our largest clients have decided to use coupons in their TellApart ads even when they have refrained from offering them elsewhere. Why? Because the curated users that we bring back to our merchant sites are of such high quality that the retailer wants to give the user a reason to click. In doing so, a huge lift in incremental sales can be gained from consumers who would have otherwise not converted.
5) Watch the numbers.
So much of the idea of respect for the consumer comes down to doing the right thing by watching the right metrics. For example, TellApart drives user click through rates of over 3% for our clients. Yes — you read that correctly: three out of every 100 users click and go on to convert at a far better than average rate for our clients. In total this amounts to hundreds of thousands of satisfied consumers every month… the silent majority who vote with their mouse clicks & pocketbooks.
TellApart is committed to driving a better advertising experience for users across the web. And we’ll continue to improve by keeping our focus on this one idea: respect for the consumer.