I Support Breitbart News: The Perils of Remarketing
Ian Lurie Feb 1 2017
Internet advertising is perilous. Your ads can show up in all sorts of places. Remarketing is particularly dangerous. This story is an example of how remarketing can go horribly, horribly wrong.
I am, in case no one guessed, a left-leaning over-privileged pinko liberal. I’m a feminist. I’m pro-immigration. I like taxes. OK, that’s a lie, but I understand taxes. And, of course, I drive a BMW, send my kids to a private school and have a corner office.
So I popped an eyeball yesterday, when my friend Brent at Flowvella sent me a picture of a Portent ad proudly displayed on Breitbart News:
Breitbart News is insane. Don’t get your knickers in a twist. Any site that publishes headlines like “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” has some journalistic challenges.
I want Portent’s ads on Breitbart like I want three-foot toenails.
How I Became a Breitbart Supporter
We buy remarketing ads. If you visit Portent.com and view specific pages, we put a cookie on your computer. We chase you around the Internet like a lovesick puppy. Thanks to Google remarketing, our ads appear whenever you visit a site in the Google Ad Network.
Remarketing makes me a great marketer and a total crap pile as a human being.
But, it does help us sell stuff. And I got bills to pay. So, lovesick puppy.
You can exclude sites in categories like “sensitive social issues.” I guess these headlines don’t count:
(Image from one of George Takei’s Tweets)
Google doesn’t have a category like, “Politics I don’t like,” or “Political Nutjobs.” Nor do they have a category like “Fake News.”
So, our ad showed up on Breitbart. It generated four clicks with a 100% bounce rate. I bet Portent earned the site $.25 or so.
Not my intent.
Google, You Must Fix This
Portent’s going to add Breitbart.com to excluded domains, of course. For our clients, too, after we ask. We won’t judge either way.
But Google, you need to create a new category. Call it whatever you like: Fake News. Extreme Left. Extreme Right. Asylum Newsletters. Whatever. Let agencies exclude sites like The Onion and Breitbart News from remarketing campaigns so that their CEOs don’t dig out their frontal lobes with blunt forks.
I didn’t write this article for fun. Our clients won’t always cheerfully support nutjob websites. I doubt my staunch Republican colleagues would want to show up on Shareblue, either.
So yeah. Create a retargeting category that lets us exclude ads from digital crazy town.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More