The new start-up Fetchback is billing their new “ware” retargeting. “We’re enabling companies to reconnect with a lost customer,” says Chad Little, CEO of Fetchback. I call it cyberstalking.
Fetchback works like this:
Say you stumble across the website of Discover Card (which happens to be a Fetchback client). After realizing your mistake after a few seconds, you quickly hit the back button or saved url and move on. No damage right? Wrong! Fetchback is slinking along your trail now. Later in the day, say while you’re browsing Edmunds.com for what the new Toyota Sequoia looks like, an ad for Discover Card pops up (death to all pop ups!) – “encouraging” you to visit the company’s site for a special deal. Die pop-up! You kill it quickly and move on with your day thinking that was the end of that. You are mistaken.
The next day, you’re sifting through your Googlenews page, and another ad for Discover Card appears. ‘Wtf? Did these guys buy 2 billion impressions or something,’ you wonder. This time Discover is offering you a $25,000 limit on your next card if you click now! Fetchback hopes that does the trick and makes you give in and click thru the @#*!% thing. You see, that’s how they get paid…on the click thru.
“Retargeted advertising” aka cyberstalking purports to convert people who are ‘already interested’ into buyers – you were visiting the Discover Card site for a reason, right? Wrong, mofo! How do you know why I landed on Edmunds.com? Maybe the Moms wanted one? Maybe I got there because I’m jealous my neighbor bought one and I want to know how much the dude plunked down on his new ride. You don’t KNOW why I am there you just claim you know since I am ‘there’.
“We’re enabling companies to reconnect with a lost customer,” says Chad Little, CEO of Fetchback. “You’re much more likely to convert customers if you’re consistently in front of them.” To paraphrase, “We have developed technology that will relentlessly annoy and harrass web site visitors until they snap or cave into being hounded for days on end until we get a click thru we can get paid on”. That sounds more like it!
Chad says the first 30 days after you ‘window-shop’ (aka stumble onto a site for some reason) for a product or service are crucial. In an attempt to not ‘piss off” surfers who visit one of their client’s sites, the visitors will receive one to five ‘re-targeted’ (escalating cyberstalking) ads during the next 30 days. The idea being to make each successive message being subtly of a higher value than its previous offers.
So make a note to keep ignoring these bloody things until almost thirty days later and you actually might see an offer worth paying attention to…but that’s a BIG might.
Supposedly the offers can get very specific based on your browsing habits (aka the idea behind cyberstalker your behavior…BT gone bad to be sure.
Fetchback is just three months old but has already signed up 20 clients and they expect that number to pass 3,000 by the end of the year according to a CNNMoney.com article. The Fetchback web site lists these companies as partners: Youtube, ESPN, Myspace, Hotmail, MSN, Answers.com and there are assuredly many others.
Granted, Ad retargeting-cum-cyberstalking isn’t something Fetchback created. Companies like DoubleClick, Blue Lithium, and Right Media have been stalking this turf as well recently. But Fetchback is the first to offer cyberstalking aka retargeted ads across all these companies’ networks which they hope will vastly increase their ability to track your behaviour across the internets. Guard your tubes!
The grail of retargeting/cyberstalking for marketers is of course obtaining the ability to serve up ads that have a higher propensity to be clicked on by potential customers. I wouldn’t mind that perhaps if companies like Fetchback weren’t so snarky about how they go about this stuff. Here is something copied directly from their web site:
Well, alrighty then.
FetchBack.com’s technology includes cookies and pixels to deliver marketing messages to web surfers. Naturally, you can opt-out of the use of FetchBack.com cookies by disabling cookies on your browser but that is not always a convenient thing to do for us web surfers. “FetchBack.com uses your IP address to help diagnose problems with our server and to administer our web site”. Yeah, I’m sure that’s it. To check problems with your server. Puh-leeze!
If Geotargeting was all they were doing, I guess I would be more apt to shrug this kind of stuff off but the potential to abuse its practices is what scares the crap out of me.
The good news is that you can opt-out of FetchBack.com’s cookies by sending an email to email@example.com. Or you can also call them here: (602)224-9000. Of if you like snail mail:
Attn: Customer Service
5110 N. 40th Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85018
You’ve been warned.