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Re-messaging: the noble art of stalking consumers online

By 31/08/2009 One Comment

Imagine you are in a store. You lay an eye on a product, say a new headphone, hold it, but decide not to buy it. You walk out of the store and see a billboard with … yes, the same  headphone you just saw in the store, offering you a 10% discount.

That, pretty much, is re-messaging (or: re-marketing, re-targetting). With re-messaging advertisers target an audience by finding the people who have already visited their website. They track visitors after they leave their site, throughout the course of their online journey and reconnect with customers to persuade them to complete a purchase or further engage with the brand Or, to put it bluntly: stalk earlier visitors throughout the internet.

How does it work?

  1. Consumer visits advertiser’s website;
  2. Advertiser logs consumer’s visit in a cookie and categorises consumer based on consumer behaviour on the website (and e.g. search keywords);
  3. Consumer leaves advertiser’s website and visits another website;
  4. Advertising space on the other website reads cookie and shows user an ad based on consumer category. For example: a higher discount percentage when the consumer might be more likely to buy something (based on the earlier categorisation of his behaviour);

There are specialised companies, like Netmining (but also Microsoft) that handle re-messaging. There is, however, a small problem for advertisers. They need access to a huge network of sites to be able to find and re-message a consumer. In other words: they have to be able to buy ad space on the other website the consumer visits.

E.g. in step 1 a consumer visits fiat.com after googling for “buying Fiat Punto” and leaves after spending  5 minutes on the Fiat Punto subsite. Fiat would love to re-message this consumer: he/she came on the site with some interesting keywords and spent a huge amount of time. The next websites the consumer visits are his Yahoo mail, his family website and Youtube. Fiat should have access to one of those three domains to be able to re-message the consumer.

Large networks like Yahoo and Google/YouTube are easy places for re-messaging. They are large networks, so, having a deal with Yahoo/Google secures you of many possibilities for re-messaging. Even more interesting, Yahoo and Google have large amounts of remnant inventory, ad space that can’t be sold. Because advertisers know the users they are targetting via re-messaging very well, they pay between $3.00 and $5.00 eCPMs instead of the below-dollar eCPMs they would usually get.

But, further, one could imagine that Fiat doesn’t want to be part of  Yahoo/Google advertsing space, but only wants to participate in trusted networks like NYTimes online. That would require Fiat (or better: the re-messaging company that Fiat works with) to have a deal with the NYTimes network. That problem is even bigger when you want localisation: it requires to have deals with networks in the U.S., but also in Belgium, Germany or the Netherlands.

Re-messaging (stalking 😉 ) is quite interesting, but there is pretty much to it to really work.

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