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Christopher Ryan Dec 12, 2014 2 min read

Not So Secret Santa


Those of us in the “ad world” tend to be a real fan of remarketing but this one advertising tactic could single-handedly RUIN THAT SURPRISE CHRISTMAS GIFT!

If you’re not familiar with what remarketing is, here’s the lowdown: remarketing is an advertising medium that directly targets consumers who have shopped a particular website but may or may not have chosen to purchase. By now, you have all experienced some version of remarketing. It’s a relatively simple idea; you search for an arbitrary item, then that same item comes up as a display advertisement on another website at a later date.

Let’s explore an example and say you were shopping for a new cell phone. You search Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc., you search for the latest droid or iPhone, but are purely there for research. You close your laptop and your shopping experience is over, right? Nope. Remarketing kicks in, sometimes as early as the very next time you navigate to another web address Sticking with our example, let’s say you open Google and browse to ESPN.com or your local newspaper’s site and, surprise, there’s a cell phone ad. Coincidence? Definitely not. The cell phone sites you browsed essentially logged your visits and told your browser that you were shopping there earlier. It’s simple: while you were shopping for that epic gift, your browser was essentially tagged.

If you’re an advertiser, the process is a bit more complicated but this explanation should suffice for now.


It’s pretty clear how can remarketing ruin your surprise Christmas gift. If you live in a home with more than just yourself then you probably will use the same computer eventually. Guess what happens when the next family member logs on? Yup, an ad for that present you were shopping for appears; Bah Humbug!

Here is an easy way to save your Christmas. First, you can “mute an ad“. Usually in the top right corner of a display ad there is an ‘x‘ which by clicking will mute that ad from appearing again. This is not the best course of action. A much simpler way is to set your browser to ‘private browsing‘. When using this feature, all browsing history and web caching is disabled, meaning that nothing is tracking your behavior. Some guys have learned this trick early on after they got sick of hitting ctrl-alt-delete (< some of you got that).

Here’s a brief list of popular browsers and how to set up private browsing.



Your cell phone has the same privacy options but there are simply too many options to list. If you have issues figuring how to do this, contact or tweet me.

Use these simple tactics and your Secret Santa shopping will be safe. And gentlemen, it works on engagement rings too but don’t tell my lady that!

Happy Festivus


Christopher Ryan

CEO & Supreme Commander | SIX Marketing