Behaviourial retargeting was one of the those things that I was aware of, but wasn’t really aware of, if you know what I mean. I could tell you what it is and why it is used, but in the course of my work, I’ve never (knowingly) deployed advertising that uses it.

But there are a couple of things that I’ve noticed recently which would appear to be retargetting efforts and whilst with my marketing head on, they were novel and appropriate, I’m beginning to think (with my consumer head) that it’s just downright annoying.

I recently had a leaking bath (tragic I know) and so I used the online DIY superstore that is Screwfix to identify the part that I needed (bath overflow unit, with integrated trap and wastepipe if you’re interested). However, I actually ended up buying the part over the counter of the local Screwfix depot. Given that they insisted on taking my postcode, you’d think their CRM system would tie up my sale with my website intentions. No such luck, numerous sites have subsequently been trying to tempt me with a bewildering array of Screwfix bath appendages – even though my need has been fulfilled. Sigh. Online marketing is great and continues to have huge potential, but it seems to me that the implications aren’t always thought through.

To be fair, you can click through on a small ‘i’ that takes you to a preference page for Criteo, the operation behind this system. So, if it’s really bugging you, you can opt out. My argument isn’t with retargeting, it’s more the lack of ‘closing the circle’ and showing me things I’ve already bought.

Of course, I shouldn’t just pick on Screwfix. I recently bought some mobile phone accessories from Mobile Fun, a rather good online supplier of mobile accessories in the UK. In a similar way to my bath woes, I’m now bombarded with additional offers for my HTC mobile. Now I understand that some people having bought some accessories will go back and buy something else – but not everyone does. Having already made a purchase, I don’t want to be nagged non-stop otherwise it’ll just make me buy my accessories elsewhere on principle (spiteful, I know).

Behaviourial retargeting is clever and useful internet marketing. Like most online marketing technology, if it’s used in a considered manner, it’s tremendously powerful and useful, fulfilling both customer and business needs. If it’s used in the same mindset as spamming then it becomes tiresome and for some people a little bit sinister (how did they know I’d be looking at…).

Here’s  hoping for better use of behaviourial retargeting.