Retailers can now target advertisements to consumers directly on their mobile devices using past behaviour as a selling tool in retargeting campaigns, but is it moving into the moral gray area of privacy issues?
Mobile retargeting is the latest element of advertisement to be added to the mix. However, some have argued it’s a step too far and infringes on privacy.
Mobile retargeting is a form of advertising that’s delivered directly to consumers’ mobile devices, based on previous online or app interactions that did not result in a conversion.
Morgan Stanley research found that by 2014, there will be over 1.5 billion mobile users browsing the web, and they will outnumber desktop users. The research body has called the trend cycle ‘Mobile Internet’ and predicts the “rapid ramp of mobile internet usage will be a boon to consumers and some companies will likely win big (potentially very big) while many will wonder what just happened”.
Retargeting in general has been a growing trend in the online world with many retailers and online businesses creating personalised advertisements to target potential customers. Online retailer Zappos even took the concept further, giving customers an in-depth explanation of retargeting and giving people the opportunity to provide feedback or opt-out of the personalised advertising.
Netbiscuits’ Lucas Challamel says mobile commerce is dominating the market at the moment and believes consumers’ changing engagement patterns is the basis for mobile retargeting.
“Mobile-first is now the rule for e-marketers as they realise there’s a 100 percent chance they’ll engage their consumers through a mobile device first. Beyond just mobile, the shopping experience and the customer journey now happens across multiple screens, most of them being mobile screens, in a highly recurring manner, and very often within the same day,” he says.
“Recurring micro-engagement across multiple mobile screens is certainly the primary driver behind the refocusing of retargeting towards mobile devices.”
The focus of mobile consumption has pushed retargeting into the limelight, and a report from iProspect says while the functionality to enable retargeting is technically achievable; privacy guidelines are stalling the capability.
The report says “the technology needed to support such tracking and retargeting currently exists today, though the methodology used to achieve such a thing is either too subjective, limited in scale, or presents serious privacy implications”.
There are a number of retargeting methods that can be adopted, including fingerprinting, web-based cookies, dual logins and device IDs, which are all explained in more detail in the iProspect report.
Challamel says all of these techniques are valid and have to be leveraged concurrently and concomitantly. However, he feels some are more applicable than others.
“Fingerprinting is mandatory within the digital marketing toolkit of any modern retailer to allow dynamic and heuristic profiling and promote the most relevant and effective content. Web-based cookies supplement fingerprinting, and enable a more granular segmentation, even a one-to-one conversation. However, we prefer social cookies to discriminate one individual from the other (Facebook, Twitter),” he says.
Dual logins is obvious and trivial now, and retailers have to assume you’re dealing with unlogged users, while leveraging device IDs is unethical and unreliable, Challamel says.
What Challamel suggests is “programmatic and real-time bidding platforms”.
“We’re certainly detecting huge opportunities for both brands and end-users. Brands will be in a position to dramatically optimise their ROI, maybe even enhancing that through programmatic and real-time bidding platforms,” he says.
“They’ll strive to provide a seamless user experience across multiple screens, but also reconcile online sessions from the same user, in a predictive and heuristic manner thanks to social cookies, to strengthen conversion rates, thanks to the right device-agnostic customer engagement platform. For end-users, beyond the big brother syndrome, this is a chance to finally get served truly context and time-relevant content and advertising, and not just noise and visual pollution.”
What are your thoughts on mobile retargeting?