Last month, Google announced a new “remarketing” feature, allowing advertisers to later target people who’d visited their sites or YouTube channels. Retargeting like this is a popular marketing topic: an Advertise.com/SEMPO survey (via) found that slightly under 70% of marketers had never used it, but 46.3% of marketers thought retargeting was the “most underutilized marketing strategy.”
With Google just getting in on the market, obviously the time is ripe for established companies to make bigger moves as well. However, as with all behaviorally targeted marketing, protecting consumer privacy is a big concern—especially for consumer privacy watchdogs. The Center for Digital Democracy has filed with the FTC asking for a probe into behavioral targeting by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, among others. This is just the most recent volley in that battle.
Interestingly, a French company is also choosing now to enter the American retargeting marketing. Criteo is moving its HQ to Palo Alto (from Paris)—but they’re bringing with them the European standard of privacy, which thus far has proven to be higher than that of the US. CEO JB Rudelle says:
We have been working in countries like Germany, which is probably the most demanding country in the world when it comes to privacy. We put a direct opt-out link on all retargeting display banners in Europe, and hope to bring this feature into the U.S. market.
(I do have to say, though, that the CDD’s director might be taking this a bit far when he says “Online marketers have made what was science fiction in ‘Minority Report’ now a reality.” Maybe it’s been a while since he’s seen that movie, but last I checked we’re not talking about iris-scanning identifying and tracking technology—or even technology that requires or uses your name (necessarily). There’s a debate over whether an IP address constitute personally identifiable information in the first place—though tracking consumers from site to site without their consent does feel like it’s crossing a line.)
I don’t know if directly opt-out links would be enough to assuage some of the privacy critics.
What do you think? Can retargeting and privacy peacefully coexist?