What Happens When You Click That “You Can Go Back to School” Ad
It’s happened to all of us a hundred times. We go to a website for information or look at a product on Amazon or maybe check fares on a travel site, and for the next few weeks we’re stalked like a wounded gazelle. Banner ads for that product or services with the exact product, travel destination or service need. It’s so bad some people think their phone is listening to them!
Retargeting is part of the price of a “free internet” and companies that market for colleges use it extensively. You’ve probably seen one of their banner ads, like the ones with the bright red headline – “Free Grants to Go Back to School” – next to an attention-grabbing dancing marionette.
Ads like these are all over the web and your social media feed and are targeted to you because of browsing habits or demographics. Even worse is the impact on your inbox when someone sells your email address to one of these companies.
What happens if you actually click on one of those ads? A while back I decided to find out and I tracked the results. While no animals were harmed in the following experiment, plenty of brain cells were.
The subterfuge started immediately! After clicking on an ad I immediately went to a site with a bunch of sponsored links. Clicking on one of those links led to a site with another bunch of sponsored ads. Clicking on one of those led to yet another site with sponsored ads.
Not really getting any help finding a school at this point.
62 phone calls from the three schools
7 different caller IDs
34 (34!!!) calls in the first 3 days
261 emails. Yes – two HUNDRED and sixty one.
22 different “from” addresses
114 subject lines
The email volume increased over time – 52 the first week, 57 the second week, 70 the third week and 82 in the final 9 days!