Creepy or Convenient:

Svedka Vodka is embracing the “creepy” this Halloween season in their latest “Banner Ad Curse” campaign. Exploiting the negative sentiment associated with online advertising, they are utilizing a tongue-in-cheek, data-driven approach to reach their target audience through videos and banners. If a user has engaged with Svedka, is engaged with the vodka category or is a data “look-a-like” with one of their customers, they’re likely being stalked by these ads and I love it.

Svedka Vodka’s “Banner Ad Curse” campaign.

Why do I love this approach when razor companies, wedding vendors, food delivery services, investment companies, and jewelry are doing the same thing, following me around on the web? Simply put, it’s smart, convenient and only a bit of a nuisance. Overall, retargeting has mixed sentiment; however, the data of whether it’s effective doesn’t lie. A few data points to chew on while you ransack your child’s candy bag:

  • Only about 5-8% of your website visitors will convert on your page, and retargeting (also known as remarketing) can be a very effective way to recover the 95% of leads you thought were lost forever.
  • 72% of online shoppers are likely to abandon their shopping carts prior to making a purchase. Without retargeting, only 8% of those customers return to complete their transactions.
  • 69.23% is the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate, and 58.6% of US online shoppers have abandoned a cart within the last 3 months because “I was just browsing / not ready to buy”.
  • Website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert on a retailers website.

With almost 60% of US online shoppers just browsing or not ready to buy, retargeting is a critical tool to have in your brand arsenal to win someone over so they ultimately buy from your digital storefront or consider buying in-store if you have a traditional/digital mix.

So, how can you turn the dial from “creepy” to “convenient?”

As a frequent online shopper and CRM enthusiast in eCommerce, I like to pride myself on having a credible opinion on the matter. Here are a few thoughts on how to drive “convenient” communication.

1 Know your audience

When setting up a campaign reduce your impressions waste and set guardrails to your audience served. Identify who you want to hit, when you want to talk to them, and where these customers engage (Facebook, YouTube, display, email, etc.). Programmatic buying for display media is a great tactic to serve ads to the right “who” on the sites they like to engage on. Since I’ve been stalking Svedka with their recent campaign, I received an Effen Vodka ad when visiting—a great follow-up by Effen to raise awareness of a different vodka to add to my consideration set.

2 Use data to fine-tune your audience

Are you selling something that people don’t want to admit they need, or are you trying to figure out a geographic area where most of your potential customers live? Harness the wealth of data within search engines to better reach and understand your ideal customer if they haven’t visited your site. Search is a powerful resource to reach “off-site” customers—those who have not visited your brand site.

3 Serve relevant information

If you’re retargeting someone who was “on-site”—meaning someone who has visited your brand site—harness that information you now have and personalize the content for them. Amazon is an excellent mentor brand to channel for this. When I added flameless tea light candles for wedding décor into my cart, but didn’t purchase, you better believe that Amazon was following up promptly via email and social with the exact product name and image to finish my purchase. Yes, they eventually got my money, if you’re curious.

4 Cap your frequency across platforms

Work with your media planning and buying agency to make sure you’re not hitting your customer too much. As this number climbs, your audience’s ability to tolerate your advertisements rapidly diminishes.

5 Create a useful algorithm

If you’re using retargeting as a reminder tool in purchase funnel to buy, harness data to make the reminder more convenient. For example, if you’re selling razors online and want to drive repurchase utilize data on average usage of blade cartridge coupled with type of facial hair to deliver a timely reminder. Sending a reminder note to buy more blades 1 month after receiving a 4-pack of blades isn’t very helpful if I’m a light shaver and need to reorder every 4 months. One of the best companies harnessing data in an algorithm is Netflix. Netflix uses a doppelganger search to see what people similar to you select and base their recommendations on that. This power of convenience keeps bringing me back year after year. In Everybody Lies, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s book that explores how data can help us understand ourselves better, he interviews Xavier Amatriain a former data scientist at Netflix, who tells him, “the algorithms know you better than you know yourself.”

6 Build an integrated communications approach

Pending your audience and category, the channels you use should differ. Make sure you’re using the right mix of PR, email, social, display, TV or radio to name a few and keep a consistent story across each. Impressions are important, especially from a brand awareness objective, and weaving a consistent message will help ensure the impression isn’t wasted. Also, remember, a mobile device is typically used for consideration and desktop devices are where the likelihood for conversion is greatest.

To echo Stevens-Davidowitz in Everybody Lies, “Like it or not, data is playing an increasingly important role in all of our lives—and its role is going to get larger.” The power behind retargeting is only beginning. Soon enough we’ll have follow-up ads once our fridge notices the milk isn’t heavy enough, or perhaps the washer will tell us to refill our Tide after a certain amount of loads. So don’t fear jumping on the retargeting bandwagon, but make sure you set yourself up for success so your brand isn’t the creepy [insert your personalized character costume] trick-or-treater everyone is avoiding tonight.


Adweek’s “Svedka Vodka Uses Retargeting to Make Creepy Halloween Ads That Follow You Around”
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are
Get S.M.A.R.T.E.R.: Setting Goal

Photo by Ludovic Toinel on Unsplash