Retargeting sparks concerns about consumer privacy


In 2010, customers of the online shoe retailer Zappos, which was acquired by Amazon in 2009, began noticing that recommendations for products they had viewed on the site were following them around the web. The culprit was a then-new practice known as "retargeting", which uses cookies to identify users as they move around the web. The source was quickly - via links on the ads themselves - identified as the French company Criteo, which tells retailers its personalised banners will help them "reengage with lost prospects". Besides Criteo and fellow start-up TellApart (acquired by Twitter in 2015), larger companies such as Google also use these techniques. Criteo defended the practice by arguing that its services helps solve the problem of how publishers can get paid when less than 20% of readers are willing to pay directly, and 79% never or rarely click on ads and that retargeting is good for consumers because it ensures the ads they see are more relevant and it does not rely on personally identifiable information.

tags: Criteo, advertising, Amazon, Zappos, TellApart, Google, cross-channel linking

Writer: Michael Learmonth; Miguel Helft and Tanzina +Vega; AdExchanger

Publication: AdAge; New York Times; AdExchanger

See more examples
Related learning resources