Paid Search (PPC)

James Caan is stalking me.  The former Dragon’s Den millionnaire entrepreneur is following me around on the Internet.  Clearly he doesn’t have time to be on Dragon’s Den anymore because he’s too busy following me around, popping up on the web pages I visit.

I have good reason to suspect he may also be stalking my friends, and I’m getting more and more annoyed each time his face pops up on the most unexpected websites I visit.  Clearly, he is intent on persuading me attending one of his training academy things so I, too, can become a supercharged entrepreneur.


How does he know where I am, and why are his ads being show specifically to me?

He’s using an online advertising technique called Remarketing.

Remarketing is tool that displays your adverts to reach people who previously visited your website.  It’s called “interest based advertising.”

Remarketing enables you to show your advertisements to people who previously visited your website, and tailor your message to their specific interest.  Or, it allows you to reach people based on their interests (such as sports enthusiast, or travel enthusiast).

In other words, a little while ago I did click on his entrepreneurship course website because one of my clients attended.  And now I’m being stalked because his marketing company thinks I’m a prospective client.

He’s added a  small piece of code to his web pages, called a remarketing tag. When I visited his website he collected my cookie ID, and that started my sad tale of being  a stalking victim.

Done correctly, remarketing provides serious business benefits:

  • your ads display to visitors who have had a previous interaction with your site, and hence may be a “warm” prospect
  • because they recognise your brand, you are likely to have a higher click through rate for your advert
  • you are going to have more exposure to your brand, over and over again, which will help build brand awareness
  • and the people who come back to your site are much more likely to convert into customers

Done incorrectly, and you’re going to get flagged as a stalker

If your business gets this advertising method wrong, you may get flagged as a stalker.  You want to make sure your campaign does not burn bridges with prospective clients.

It is possible to configure your advertising campaign such that you cap the the number of times a particular visitor sees your adverts, such that you don’t wear out your welcome.

And advertisers can also create specific landing pages, so that if a punter clicks on the ad they go to specific page on the website that corresponds to the particular offer being made in the advert.

The agency working on this campaign claim a conversion rate uplift of 407% and a reduction in cost per acquisition of 53%, with only 3 complaints of stalking.

So, is anybody else being stalked by James Caan besides me….?


11 responses to “James Caan is Stalking Me: Remarketing Gone Scary”

  1. Katie Saxon says:

    He isn’t stalking me – but Wayne has mentioned it too, I feel quite left out now!

    However I was being stalked by a watch website I visited when I was investigating presents for my boyfriend. I didn’t notice for a few days, by which time he’d seen the ads often enough to know exactly what he was getting for Christmas. Is nothing sacred?

  2. Keith Cooper says:

    I first saw him as an ad on an article I’d just written about business mistakes that photographers make.

    Out of curiosity I visited his site, and now you’ve explained how come I thought he must have a huge advertising budget 🙂

    It’s a nuisance, since it messes up visits to my site to check out who’s advertising – time to have another cookie cull on my main browser – not sure if this works though.

  3. Dave Smith says:

    I have been stalked by (the furniture website) – and couldn’t believe how often their ads were appearing on the most insignificant website, I then noticed a tiny i in the bottm right corner of the ad – and voila! Although a fan of the made brand and bought a number of things from them, I resented the chasing after me – felt like a salesman who doesnt loeave you alone, so as far as I am concrned, they have damaged their brand and reputation with me. However, I assume their bean counters are looking at the conversions and if they have increased – I guess they won’t be stopping anytime soon! I opted out of the whole remarking programme, but that was for only one company apparently.

  4. Susan Hallam says:

    I’m also being stalked by, and they are showing me images of specific hotels at specific cities are searched for. I find it very unsettling to know they were using their database of my behaviour to target me.

    Parcels2Go are also stalking me.

    Anybody else?

  5. Wayne Barker says:

    Like Katie has mentioned James Caan has been stalking me for some time now! I wouldn’t mind if it had been the famous actor James Caan, he is far cooler and sophisticated – although he also has the look of a stalker.

  6. Katie Saxon says:

    I much prefer the tactic that Office Shoes and follow with regards to the frequency of remarketing. For just a few hours after I’ve been browsing their site I’ll see a few adverts popping up with their content. It’s much less obtrusive.

    However, they ruin it by showing a revolving ad of all the shoes and clothes that I’ve just viewed, which has the slightly creepy stalker vibe Susan referred to with…

  7. I have had this too. I had initially thought that he was spending a fortune on advertising and I was just visiting websites etc that he had targetted. Now I know better. I do like Dragons Den and I find some of James Caan’s comments to be very good. But, I have the remote for the television and have the power to change the channel whereas in the virtual world I do not. I would sooner see genuine adverts rather than this type of stalking.

    Frankly James, I’m out.

  8. Dan says:

    I’ve had the same thing happen to me with Surfdome, in my case it helped as it reminded me to get clothing I had forgotten about, but for attending the training academy, I’m not sure but I think it was the wrong way to go about it to use Remarketing.

    Is there anyway you can un-subscribe to this advertising? As in my case I still got adverts after I had bought from them… if there was a opt out option on the website, or the advert, then that would be okay in my eyes 🙂

  9. Started to notice this mid last week whilst doing research on SEO, Google PR etc…

    By close of play Friday his mildly photoshopped facade was popping up enough to be amusing, today, it’s just scary, not sure how soundly I will sleep tonight.

  10. Matt says:

    I was just about to write a blog post about the same thing but thought i’d quickly google “james caan stalked” first et voilà…

    Considering it’s supposed to be at the leading edge of sophisticated digital marketing, retargetting feels incredibly blunt at the moment. Talking to someone on the ad ops team of a national newspaper website the other day, he said it’s number one in the reader complaints list at the moment.

    Some simple lessons ought to help:

    1. don’t retarget me after i have bought the product or a similar product from you
    2. frequency cap the retargetting so that you don’t end up stalking the consumer
    3. retargetting in the right context is going to be much more effective. don’t retarget with me with sofas when i’m reading an article about accountancy on a business site. it’s just annoying and maybe i don’t want my boss to see what i’ve been looking at on my lunch break!

    any other tips?

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