New Performics and NU Intent Lab Study Uncovers ‘Smart Remarketing’ Tips to Improve Personalization

Love it or hate it, remarketing works and 23% of respondents who encountered it purchased from the brand, according to the study. However, there’s a fine line between assistive and annoying.

CHICAGO--()--Remarketing is a mixed bag for brands and consumers. Roughly 40% of shoppers dislike the practice, but new research from The Intent Lab, a research partnership between Performics and Northwestern University, offers a good roadmap for maximizing effectiveness and driving conversion.

Brands need to be smart about their remarketing campaigns or risk alienating shoppers, according to the Intent Lab study. The tactic absolutely works to convert browsers into buyers—23% of respondents who encountered were served a message about something they viewed but didn’t buy said they purchased the product—but consumers are getting savvier about how they respond and are taking steps to avoid receiving unwanted messaging.

Approximately 34% of survey respondents like remarketing to some degree while 37% dislike it (31% were neutral). Preferences vary by product category with 37% and 35% of respondents saying they enjoyed remarketing in the apparel and electronics categories, respectively. But only 6% were accepting of the practice from financial institutions, where privacy and security concerns come into play.

Among respondents that approved of remarketing:

  • 38% said it allows them to find a better price from a different seller
  • 25% consider it personalized advertising
  • 19% like that it allows for postponing a purchase without losing research
  • 18% consider it a reminder to buy something

“One of the most interesting pieces of information from the study was just how many consumers actually like remarketing,” said Esteban Ribero, senior vice president, Planning and Insights at Performics. “They are using it as a research tool and to find competitive pricing. Many even recognize the practice as a welcome form of personalization, one that can save both time and money.”

Remarketing, the practice of targeting a consumer with a recently viewed product to drive conversion, is one of the more popular personalization tools in a brand’s toolkit. It’s also among the more controversial as brands and retailers are wary of alienating consumers with too many messages, many of which may miss the mark and in fact backfire. This is a valid concern—if done incorrectly, remarketing can have a negative impact on brand perception and consumers online experience.

“Our Intent Lab results show that brands need to practice ‘smart remarketing’ or they risk alienating customers. Companies need to be careful with how they use remarketing, particularly in terms of frequency,” said Ashlee Humphreys, Medill associate professor and principal researcher for the Intent Lab. “If they are timid, advertisers can miss opportunities. But if they’re too aggressive, they risk turning customers against the brand.”

Consumers especially don’t want to be bothered by repeated remarketing. Anything more than once a day for a week is too much:

  • More than 50% prefer remarketing just once a week
  • 39% only accept one day of remarketing
  • 24% are okay with 2-3 days of remarketing
  • 21% find up to one week of remarketing acceptable

Overall, remarketing does not have a strong impact on brand image—53% of respondents said that remarketing doesn’t affect their opinion of the brand. Just 14% of all respondents strongly disliked remarketing.

However, there is still a big portion of the population, 40% to be precise, that finds remarketing to be annoying or distracting. This is still a big number. Brands need to practice smart remarketing by delivering fresh information to keep the experience from being repetitive as well as work harder to make sure it is also accurate: 34% are bothered by seeing products they had decided not to buy and 22% would like to see new things.

“Consumers are receptive to remarketing if it adds value to their brand experience,” said Ribero. “But if not, the ads are not just being ignored, marketers run the risk of alienating consumers, prompting them to actively try to avoid being remarketed. Shoppers are savvier today and understand how this works, and many have developed coping mechanism to avoid being remarketed as if they were experiencing some kind of remarketing anxiety.”

Of those respondents that have taken action to avoid remarketing, 41% won’t click on an advertisement, 31% refuse to provide an email address, 20% stop visiting the website, 16% won’t like, pin or share an item on social media and 16% won’t click for more details.

About Performics

As the original performance marketing agency, Performics is the premier revenue growth driver for many of the world’s most admired brands. Across an expansive global network operating in 57 countries, Performics leverages data, technology and talent to create and convert consumer demand wherever it is expressed—search, social, display, commerce and offline channels. Performics is built for the relentless pursuit of results. Headquartered in Chicago, Performics is a Publicis Media company and the performance marketing engine of Publicis Groupe. Demand Performance. To learn more, visit

About Northwestern University Medill School

As the media industry experiences unprecedented change, Medill leads the way in journalism and integrated marketing communications education and research. In the school’s graduate and undergraduate programs, expert faculty teach enduring skills and values along with new techniques that are essential to thrive in today’s digital world. In addition, these faculty members develop knowledge and research that help media companies, organizations and businesses engage with audiences and consumers in new and more meaningful ways. Because of this, Medill faculty, students and alumni are not only thriving in this evolving media landscape but also helping shape it.


Laura Heller
Director of External Communications

Social Media Profiles


Laura Heller
Director of External Communications