Online Ads that Seem to Follow You

Have you ever visited a website or been online shopping for a specific item, and now, all of a sudden, you are seeing ads from that website everywhere? If it’s an item you are not interested in or have already purchased, they might seem a little annoying. If you are still considering the purchase though, through a business’s eyes, these ads that follow you online are a marketing dream.

What Are Online Ads that Seem to Follow You?

Ads that “follow” you across different websites are called re-targeting, or re-marketing, ads. This analogy should help explain why they are so powerful: imagine if someone visited your brick and mortar clothing store. They browsed for a while and liked the clothes, but didn’t make a purchase. Normally they would leave and likely never think about your store again. But what if you had a way of subtly putting your clothes in front of them throughout their day? Maybe someone walked by wearing the clothes they were just looking at, or they saw a billboard for your brand featuring what they had just tried on, and now offering a 20% off coupon on these items! If this was you as a consumer, wouldn’t you be pretty close to returning to the store and making a purchase now?

This is essentially what re-marketing is, but in a digital version. With Google’s re-marketing ads you can track who has visited your site, what pages they viewed, and even if they took actions like added items to their cart.

How Re-Marketing Works

For most types of re-marketing, you must set up lists, or “audiences,” in Google Analytics to gather the information of those who visit your website. The most basic audience type is to gather everyone who visits any page of your website to re-market to. On top of a general audience you can also start to build more targeted audiences based on their behavior; such as which web pages they visited and what items they viewed.

These audiences can then be used to either show ads to across Google’s display network or to target them in Google Searches. For display network ads, these are those ads you have probably seen with an image and a little bit of text. For search ads, by using re-targeting here, your ads will be shown at the top of their search results if users in your audience make a google search related to your website.
Re-marketing ads are a powerful way to stay at the top of the mind of shoppers. The transaction process often takes multiple visits to your website over a span of days or weeks before a purchase is made. Don’t let customers move onto a competitor and forget all about you; stay on their radar with re-marketing.

Types of Re-Marketing Ads

Standard Re-Marketing

Standard re-marketing is when you build an audience based on visitors to your website and re-market to them with ads on websites in the Google display network.

Search Re-Marketing

Search re-marketing takes users in your audience, and if they make a Google search for one of your keywords, you will get preference to show up at the top of their search results.

Video Re-Marketing

Video re-marketing takes those who have viewed your content on YouTube and re-markets to them either with YouTube videos, banner ads in the Google search network, or with search ads.

Email List Re-Marketing

Email list re-marketing is great if you already have an established list of past customers or contacts. You can upload that list into Google and specifically target them with either banner ads on Google’s display network or with search ads based on their email address.


If you have taken notice of re-marketing ads, that means your potential customers have too. Consider this type of digital advertising for your website. Staying on a customer’s radar will ensure that they stick with you throughout their entire shopping process.

Equifax Breach

The Equifax breach is shaping up to be the largest data hack in history in terms of the number of Americans effected. There is still a lot of confusion about what exactly happened, but there are a few initial steps you can take to help protect yourself from theft based on what we do already know.

What Happened?

According to initial information, it appears that a software weakness existed from mid-May through July of 2017 before it was patched. During this time, it seems that hackers accessed the personal and financial data of about 143 million Americans. The information gathered by hackers included names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and even credit card numbers.

Equifax is one of the largest credit reporting agencies. If you have an established credit history, your information has a high probability of having been leaked.

How Might Consumers Be Affected?

Often, hackers and identity thieves get only bits and pieces of personal and financial data. Breaches at retail stores will often only reveal names and credit card numbers, mail theft can produce social security numbers, but thieves rarely get the full picture. What makes this breach so dangerous is the breadth of information stolen. As mentioned before, an array of personal and financial information was stolen intact. Not only does a thief now know your name and social security number, but if asked to verify your identity, they could produce your address and driver’s license number too.

Consumers could be affected by both fraudulent accounts opened in their name and by theft from their existing accounts. The combination of information stolen leaves the door open to a variety of different ways identity thieves could use it.

What Can I do to Protect Myself?

Today, what you can do is to check over your full financial history by requesting a credit report from all three major credit monitoring agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. You can get a free report from each of these agencies once a year. Request your report and check it over for anything that could be fraudulent.

Some recommend putting a complete freeze on your credit. This would keep any new accounts from being opened with your information. You can also sign up for a credit monitoring service that would alert you if new accounts were opened in your name.

This won’t necessarily protect you from theft of your current assets though. Keep a close eye on your bank and retirement accounts for unusual activity. It would also be wise to file your tax return as early as possible next year. Identity thieves often try to file taxes as individuals to keep the return for themselves, but if you file first, they will not be able to.

What is Equifax Doing to Help?

Equifax has created a website ( under the pretense of helping people check if they were affected by the breach and are offering 1 year of free credit monitoring. This might come with a catch though. It would appear from the agreement that signing up for a year of free credit monitoring may waive your right to participate in a class action lawsuit. The effects of this breach could hurt you for many years to come, so weigh your options before you agree to Equifax’s proposed solution.

In Summary

All in all, you might be thinking, the Equifax breach sounds bad, but should I care? The answer is unequivocally: yes! This is larger than any other breach and includes far more valuable information than most individual companies ever have. What makes this breach even worse is that all of your information is linked together in a neat package for identity thefts to easily personify you. Expect to hear about this breach and its ramifications for years to come.