Ad Funnels: Are We Really Oversold by Algorithms? Feedback – Image

When I tell my relatives about our digital professions and how a media campaign works, their reactions are always surprising. Elles varient entre «ça fait peur», «je ne savais pas qu’on pouvait faire tant de choses» ou encore, «ha, c’est à cause de toi que je suis sans arrêt sollicité après avoir visité le site d’une brand? “

On the latter point, we are a large majority who have already felt overwhelmed by advertising for similar products after having been interested in a specific product, and this for several weeks.

As a media strategist, then, I wondered if this feeling of being so often exposed to competing brand advertisements that interested me was a reality or some sort of confirmatory bias.

Are we really exposed to a multitude of competing products or are we simply more alert to advertisements for this product during our reflection period preceding a purchase?

To provide some answers, I conducted a small experiment with no statistical value but full of lessons to try to pierce the secret of Facebook’s targeting algorithms and beyond.


I have selected 20 brands from various sectors with which I have not had contact in recent months (site visit / product purchase, etc.). With our team we then listed the URLs of the affected sites, from another computer and therefore with a different IP address.

Subsequently I carried out one or two actions by brand or sector, either by visiting the site in direct access, by clicking on an ad on the social networks (RS), or by liking a social page (SM), or by doing a search on Google. The visits or searches on Google were made from an Apple computer, using the Google Chrome browser. Actions on social media are performed via an Android mobile phone, platform applications and an Apple desktop.

And from there the observation started: I documented the possible retargeting or targeting of competing ads with the brand, the location of the exhibition and I took a screenshot. The documentation was essentially based on an Android mobile. During the experiment, for simplicity, I focused on the Meta ecosystem (Facebook / Instagram), which has very advanced targeting capabilities and an unbeatable reach.


Out of 20 brands and as many sectors tested, several targeted me with their advertising. But six in particular got me into a “tunnel” of directly competing product advertising, being multi-retargeting, climbing to more than ten different brands within a few days, and that’s just from my initial interaction with a chosen brand. (e.g. a visit to their direct access site). Six brands for six sectors: optics, mobility, sneakers, cycling, men’s ready-to-wear and education.

First, for their retargeting, five of the six brands in question retargeted me with their ads. In the sneakers and mobility sectors I then saw one or two competing brands, but this was not significant enough. Much more eloquent, on the other hand, are the sectors of optics, bicycles, men’s prêt-à-porter and education: from four for education to more than ten competitors for the other three sectors, I was multi-retargeting and those for several weeks.

So why was I integrated into “advertising tunnels” by some brands and not others? It is difficult to have a generalized answer because the selected brands all invest heavily in digital advertising. They are the so-called “traditional” advertisers or pure gamers whose online advertising is a key element of their business model.

There are, however, elements that explain why the competitors of these ten brands have not all approached me after my visit:

1- First, Facebook advertising tracking may not be or is poorly integrated into the site visited. But this hypothesis is unlikely given the reach of Facebook and the pixels visible on the home pages of the sites concerned.

2- Second hypothesis, I do not correspond to the profile targeted by these brands (eg: a women’s cosmetics brand, even if I visit its site, will not necessarily retarget a man).

3- Third possibility, the brands in question did not have an active campaign at the time of my visit.

Another point is worth noting, however: in none of the cases in which I have had an interaction with “traditional brands” such as car manufacturers, luxury brands, jewelers or even banks, have I been “tunnels”. On the other hand, all of my ad funnel experiences were experienced after a visit to the so-called DNVB (Digital Native Vertical Brand) brands.

So can we learn from this experience?

By starting this experiment, I thought I was clearly confirming a sentiment shared by many of us, but the result turns out to be less revealing than expected.

On the one hand, on some brands visited, we cannot observe porosity because no competitor targeting has occurred after one or two interactions with a specific brand. This concerns 100% of traditional brands.

On the other hand, the opposite extreme can occur after a visit to a site that triggers excessive solicitation from a multitude of competing brands. A state of affairs that prompts us to ask ourselves:

– To what extent is the behavioral data collected on brand sites using Facebook pixels used to feed the targeting data of the American platform?

– As a brand, by activating a campaign on the SM platform to develop my turnover (CA), I am ready to feed awareness of the audience, which Meta then sells to my competitors in the form of segments? Audience / targeting criteria?

– And finally, the most important question: to what extent do my advertising investments to generate sales on my site contribute to generating sales for my competitors?

Three questions that deserve the attention of advertisers before embarking on an online campaign. What does Meta answer? And what is the line for you not to cross?

(Published forums are the responsibility of their authors and do not involve CB News).

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