Web Start-up Fetchback Creates New Cyberstalker-ware

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:

“We all have a right to see whatever ads are put in front of us whether they’re meaningful to us or not. So sure, if a visitor wants to opt out of receiving informational, beneficial messages and instead get more offers for herbal supplements and penny stocks, they can contact FetchBack at any time. See our privacy policy for more details. (Sarcasm aside, we honestly feel FetchBack is an improvement to the visitor’s experience, not an intrusion, and we strongly encourage visitors to consider the pros and cons before opting out.”

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 customerservice@fetchback.com.  Or you can also call them here:  (602)224-9000.  Of if you like snail mail:

FetchBack.com
Attn: Customer Service
5110 N. 40th Street
Suite 120
Phoenix, Arizona 85018

You’ve been warned.

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4 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Internet, Marketing, Media

4 responses to “Web Start-up Fetchback Creates New Cyberstalker-ware

  1. I believe that you are being overly paranoid about the capabilities of forthcoming advertisers such as Fetchback. I do not believe that you realize how many times you are receiving “re-targeted” advertising. There are plenty of companies that use their 3rd party cookies to interface with adware, however I feel fetchback is honest with their intent and do not. Question: What do you think companies do/could do with your IP? The answer is most likely nothing.
    TIZMANIAN: Intentions can change very quickly in web-land, Chad. I don’t think any of us are being paranoid enough. Who knows what some company or maladjusted hacker could figure out what to do with IPs? Geotargeting is a great use for advertising online and I certainly benefit from that but what I nor you benefit from is some new web entity following my actions around persistently harrassing me with ads from the same marketer in the hopes that I will click thru on something. This behavior is analogous to telemarketers continually calling my home and hanging up before I can say “take me off your list” hoping to reach someone else at my home or maybe get me in a better mood. That type of thinking is screwed up and taking those type of tactics online doesn’t make them any more palatable.

  2. Jeff

    I really think that its a shame that you guys are anonymously writing such a sarcastic blog. Your whole basis for not liking Fetchback starts off with you creating a sweeping generalization of how people visit websites. You keep saying “stumble” across a website like that is something that is even possible. If you are wandering around the internet like a drunk college student walking home at 3am then you’re not the typical web user so for you to use that argument for the rest of the intelligent people on the web is pretty sad. I can’t imagine that anyone has ever accidentally stumbled onto the Discover Card webpage. I’m pretty sure that any intelligent person would know the only reason for going to that website is to either get a Discover Card or to manage their existing account. Your baseless argument is pretty lame and sounds more like a 3rd grader whining than an intelligent argument. Also, you try to say that the retargeting ads given to you are “annoying” and “harassment”….but then you mention yourself that the web user will see 1-5 ads over a 30 day period of time after visiting a website. I don’t quite see how the appearance of 1-5 ads is harrassment or annoying. Also, they are not pop-up ads either. They are banner ads that appear within the content of the website you are visiting, so you are not forced to look at it. Fetchback is the first company to actually come up with a responsible method of retargeting that is not invasive, does not require any downloads to your computer to work, and they are doing it in a very above the board way that is not sneaky in any way, shape or form. Banner ads are going to appear on the websites you visit whether you like it or not. As a marketer, I am thrilled that the ads can be relavent to the webpages that I have visited before and that I can use that tool to retarget my own web visitors.

    TIZMANIAN: Blogger perogative on being anonymous, Jeff. BTW – Most web users are not sitting at home treating the web like a giant yellow or white pages every time they sit down at their PC or Mac. To suggest that those that peruse for things online without an ‘express mission’ in mind as being ‘a drunk college student’ is to not acknowledge how a lot of web activity is being conducted. Your own response reads like it was posted by a paid shill for Fetchback but since you have not touted that fact I’ll let it slide. And yes, I consider that anything ‘retargeted’ to my IP address is pure cyberstalking. I never said that I didn’t like banner ads (as a sales guy of them I certainly couldn’t claim that)…I just don’t like some company planning a persistent, pervasive, aggressive, stalking ad campaign to try and berate me into action by bombarding me with the same messages over and over again. How will that help me? Maybe I would value seeing something else advertised to me rather than the same ads from the same six sites I visited the last 30 days over and over again? What companies like Fetchback are going to do is provide web users with a higher degree of impetus to learn how to block images, empty their cache on a daily basis, as well as other ‘non-friendly’ tactics to marketers more quickly and that is not necessarily a good thing. Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution to creating a non-invasive killer app that doesn’t piss people off but I would recommend that others keep trying to do so. Fetchback ain’t it.

  3. Pingback: Blocking Online Ads With Mozilla’s Adblock Plus « TWO A DAY

  4. Steve

    What about those people who own the websites and have paying customers for advertising? The owner of the website is not getting their due revenue for the ‘real estate’ that they own and traffic that they generate. Website owners work very hard to generate traffic and advertising revenue. If Fetchback isn’t paying these website owners and this type of technology proliferates, Fetchback will find itself in lawsuit city.
    TIZMANIAN: I hear you, Steve. From what I gather though, Fetchback can only serve up ads from within those sites that belong to their ad network. As most networks go though I imagine that the ad network creators fair far better than the sites within it (see: pyramid schemes or Amway Corporation).

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