Nicely executed retargeting opt-out (for a change)

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Retargeting (sometimes called remessaging or remarketing) has taken off in a big way, recently – Google introduced the feature into AdWords earlier this year, and a host of other players are in the game. Consequently, the interwebs now abound with commentary on the rather spooky nature of the technology, with people being “followed around” the Internet by ads for things they were either searching for, or were looking at on e-commerce websites.

It is true that most retargeting implementations are a bit clunky, and I have been on the receiving end of plenty of them myself. Their most irritating aspect seems to be that the time window for perceived relevance of the retargeted ads seem to be ridiculously long. It’s somehow almost more irritating to be deluged by ads for that miscellaneous widget site that you once visited a few weeks ago (even though you have since satisfied your need for widgets elsewhere) than it is to be served non-targeted (or more broadly targeted) ads.

Such ads are made more bearable by a robust opt-out capability; many ad networks have adopted the IAB’s self-regulatory program, which calls for the advertiser to make it possible to opt out of these kinds of ads, which is to say, stop receiving them; stopping the data collection is a more difficult matter.

So today I want to give a little love to TellApart, not because their retargeting implementation is especially subtle or innovative, but simply because they provide a nice opt-out implementation. Last week I spent a little time looking for a desk for my daughter (who currently occupies our dining table with her homework). So since then I have been served retargeted ads on behalf of the site I visited ( on various sites. Here’s one from Business Insider:


The nice thing about the ad is it has a little “x” icon in the top right (which actually makes a little more sense than the IAB’s suggested “Advertising Option Icon”, which is a bit cryptic). Clicking it gives me this:


The ability to opt out right in the ad unit is nice, and makes me feel more well-disposed to the advertiser and the site that the ad is running on. Clicking through the “Learn More About These Ads” link at the bottom takes me to TellApart’s website with a little more information and the same option to opt out – though no option to opt out of certain categories of ads, or groups of advertisers.If more retargeting networks provided simpler opt-out capabilities like these, it might help to make these ads seem like less of a scary proposition.

4 thoughts on “Nicely executed retargeting opt-out (for a change)”

  1. Opting Out of anything, whether its email, retargeting, or any kind of advertisement is an essential part of any emarketing campaign. There may not be ways to make advertisers do it in every place yet, but getting negative reputation for NOT doing it isn’t worth it. I’ll be interested to see where “retargeting” goes from here. Good Article!

  2. It is nice that you can just opt out of this advertiser versus all advertisers on TellApart, and I agree the execution is better here than the industry-speak compliance notices.
    Most probably won’t think it’s worth it, but I can see compliance notices becoming a new opportunity for developers and Ops people to have a little fun, similar to what’s happened on 404 page design around the web.

  3. @Mandar Morekar
    My own experience is the (type of) people who are likely to opt-out of things like this are ALSO the people who refuse to click ads. My belief is that, generally, people don’t like ads due to user experience issues. Obviously, there’s a paranoia about “being followed around” but no body complains that they only see certain brands in commercials on certain TV or radio stations they consume.
    I think people need to come to terms with the fact that SOME form of online ad targeting is going to exist. Marketers need an empirical way to figure out whether marketing strategies work or not.
    B. Joseph Burch
    Phone: 415-683-0383

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