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Retargeting Your Visitors: How Marketers Can Work Around Google's 'Mute This Ad' Feature

man typing on laptopDigital marketers understand the value of a retargeting strategy, encouraging those who are already on the brand discovery journey to read more content and convert into a customer.

Research cited in Business 2 Community shows that retargeting ads have a 76 percent higher click-through rate, and it makes sense that you would want to reach people who have already expressed initial interest, or at least curiosity, about your brand.

But Google's Mute This Ad function, which lets users hide ads, is being rolled out more aggressively to remarketing ads, which Google refers to as reminder ads. Plus, it will let users know that they've been retargeted.

A Sign of the Times

This minor update could make a ding in your remarketing efforts. It's just one recent change that signals a shift in how ad platforms and governing agencies view data collection for the sake of advertising and marketing, no doubt spurred by the recent Cambridge Analytica lawsuit. 

One other canary in the coal mine is the European Union's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules, outlined by the European Commission. It limits use of cookies for tracking users, and really any kind of data collection that could identify your users, affecting email marketers in particular.

GDPR laws only apply to users in the EU, but many marketers are complying now to avoid operating on two sets of rules, or to get ahead of the game if similar rules are adopted stateside.

Dear marketers, the world is not against you, though it may seem that way. Rather, we're shifting to a digital environment where the user has greater control over the content they see and the information they give away. To help you get through this, first let's talk about the pertinent details of Mute This Ad.

What You Need to Know About 'Mute This Ad'

When users decide they've seen enough and hide your ad, it doesn't mean they're muting that one particular ad. They're blocking all your Google ads for up to 90 days, across all devices, according to Search Engine Land.

Search Engine Land also reported that muting reminder ads is expected to roll out across YouTube, Google search and Gmail soon. Currently, Mute This Ad is a functionality of Google Display Network's web and application ads only.

So far, Google has removed more than 1 million ads from its network due to user feedback, and that could go up as the function continues to expand. Search Engine Land also noted that advertisers do not currently receive reporting on their muted ads, but increased demand from advertisers could change that.

It's important to reiterate that Mute This Ad isn't a new function; it's just expanded. If you've always received a good return on your retargeting ads, you probably don't have anything to worry about. But if remarketing on Google has given you low CTR and conversions, that trend may continue downward.

Update Your Retargeting Strategy — And Your Mindset

Rather than viewing Mute This Ad and other changes as barriers, marketers should think of them as new parameters that narrow down your audience to only those expressly interested in what you're offering. In fact, the net effect may mean higher conversion rates and ROI because you're not spending money trying to reach people who aren't really interested.

Essentially, we've reached a new era in digital marketing where targeting qualified users isn't a cool and advanced tactic, but a necessary component of any strategy. Serving ads to people who don't want to see them wastes your money and can alienate people from your brand.

As such, rather than viewing these changes as something to be worked around, digital marketers should take the hint and get serious about their retargeting strategies. Below are two key ways you can remarket to users without ads:

Email Marketing

The data in your CRM is a treasure trove of customer insights. But take a hint from Google and avoid spamming your list with generic email blasts. HubSpot suggested that segmenting your list according to interests, stage in the funnel or geography can seriously boost the efficacy of your email marketing strategy.

Organic Social

If you have a large or active audience on social media, experiment with different types of content, contests, quizzes, offers and anything else from which you might be able to glean insights. If you don't have a substantial social audience, try to use your email list to fix that by creating campaigns that incentivize or entice people to follow your brand.

Businesses just starting out may still have to rely on advertising to build an audience, and that's OK. Digital advertising isn't dead, it's just evolving.

For now, your best move may be to do nothing and wait to see if the Mute This Ad expansion affects you. While you're waiting for a statistically significant sample, work on refining your organic social and email strategies so you're not as reliant on advertising.

Plus, these organic efforts can let you build better customer relationships by providing useful content and a multi-way communication channel, which fosters trust and brand loyalty.

As with any strategic overhaul, help from digital marketing experts can be crucial to success. From setting goals to implementing and measuring major changes, agency insights can help you get it right by applying years of experience and learning.

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