Have you ever heard the expression, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”? In the case of online ad and email re-marketing, we believe there should be a line between prudent re-marketing and inappropriate re-marketing. See the image, above. The background shows a screen grab of my Facebook account with not one but three re-marketing ads. (Don’t tell my boss but…) it’s true that I had visited each of these 3 sites recently.

And, while I can applaud the targeting efficiency, isn’t there a point where it’s just too much? For instance, I had visited Warby Parker more than two weeks prior to this appearance (and completed a purchase). How long do they plan to follow me around? How much do they expect me to buy? As to West Elm, I researched a stand for our new TV. Not only were they remarketing to me in a public forum (Facebook), they also specifically promoted the exact same item back to me via email! (See my iPhone in the above image.) EGAD, what happened to privacy? You think I’m being too thin-skinned? I once had a marketer track and re-market a computer mouse to me while I was visiting my father’s obituary online.

Some would argue that the results speak for themselves. The problem is, near-term, such advertisers measure clicks. Visits to their site. But, how are they tracking the negative impact on brand perceptions? Do they track annoyance? Revulsion? How long before I stop going to West Elm or that hardware site altogether for fear of future stalking?

We’re simply advocating a little common sense. Brands looking to re-market should apply appropriate criteria and limits: frequency caps, contextual guidelines, time parameters. And if they can’t? Well, what’s true for spandex yoga pants is sometimes true for re-marketing: just because you can doesn’t always mean you should.