What is remarketing? A not-so-scary answer. Probably.

Remarketing Defined

A few months ago I tried explaining remarketing to a group of somewhat social media savvy people. You know, people who like and use social media and know enough not to post photos they don’t want their kids to see.

Regular people.

Anyway, in attempting an explanation I ended up scaring everyone so I thought maybe, just maybe I could turn things around.


What is remarketing?

You know when you shop on Amazon and the boxes below show you what other people purchased? Well that’s kind of remarketing. Step one let’s say.

OK, so you’ve visited Amazon and you clicked on a couple things in the “other people purchased these products too” box. Maybe you even put something in your shopping cart. But then. You changed your mind.

Say it isn’t so!

So you move on. Bye bye Amazon, hello Facebook! Or Google, or whatever.You move on. While you’re browsing you happen to see…wait, what’s this? The same product you were just looking at on Amazon? Well it’s starting to look a bit more interesting now…hmm…

And you click on the link.

That, my friends, is remarketing.

So I understand why it’s scary. How did one website tell the other website what you were looking at? And what else does it know about you!?

I get it.

But the thing you have to keep in mind is you’re the one who told the Internet all it knows about you. No one else told the website anything. So if you don’t want websites to show you stuff you didn’t buy but might change your mind about, then you just need to give it a little less to go on.

Here are a couple quick tips to protect your privacy online

  • If you don’t want Facebook to know what you looked at on Amazon just clear your cache or turn on private browsing
  • Don’t fill in your social media profiles, especially your birthdate, address, phone number, etc.
  • Don’t put your social insurance number on online forms unless it’s your bank or for a credit check
  • Use a password safe to store your passwords—so they can be auto-generated and you don’t have to remember them. Of course this is awkward if you’re trying to log into apps on your phone…haven’t figured that one out yet
  • Don’t give your postal code when using your credit card…you might as well give the store your address, phone number, and middle name too

So, remarketing isn’t scary if you know what you’ve shared online. And if you think you’ve shared to much, time to do a profile purge! Have fun!

Something else to keep in mind is if you are successful in tricking the Internet you’re going to get a lot of non-relevant advertising. Like I do. For diaper coupons and hockey stat apps.

Misleading Advertisements [maybe I should wait till I had my coffee to read emails]

Only 40 Days of Summer Left

Just like everyone else I wake each morning and spend a few groggy minutes flipping through the emails accrued overnight.

Usually it’s blah blah blah

But the other morning this one caught my eye.

Only 40 days left of summer!

What now?

My half-asleep brain yelled IT’S NOT EVEN SUMMER YET and I’m being told there’s only 40 days left!

Harumph. Aren’t misleading advertisements the worst?

I stewed on this all day long. Stewed! And then I thought, I’m going to write about this and talk about how easy it is to go wrong in your advertising.

So I prepared my blog in a self-satisfied way (why is it always like this!?) and after…a few moments…I noticed I hadn’t quite read the advertisement right. Can you blame me? It’s so blasted confusing to begin with, using “only” and “left” and “until” in close succession.

It’s funny. I spent all day stewing about an advertisement’s message only to later learn I misunderstood completely.

But still! It could have been written better. Like, way better.

Quick! Hurry! Only 40 days until summer!

OK, now that I have the words sorted out let’s talk about the message.

I believe the goal of the ad is to point out the short time till summer’s approach and encourage vacation-starved email recipients to book now or forever hold their peace. But did it work?

For me, no. There is no way I appreciate being reminded of how short summer is, even if I misunderstood the (entire) message in my groggy early-morning state.

How could they have got my business?

Well, I’m not sure. I’m not planning a summer vacation so I’m maybe not the target market. But if I was I would be prompted into action not by the short time until summer begins but by the short time I have to save a ton of money on the raddest vacation EVER.

Yeah, I think the dollars push my buttons a bit more than a pressure push tactic.

Anyway, just one of those things I was thinking about.

Narrowing Down Travel Rewards Credit Cards

points cards overwhelm

Points Cards Overwhelm

I have a lot of points cards. A lot. I have so many I don’t even remember which clubs I belong to anymore. And I don’t know how many points I have, what I can do with them, or when/if they expire.

It’s a problem.

For a while now I’ve wanted to slim down my points memberships and choose a few I understand and will actually use. But how do you know which ones you’ll use and which ones give you the best value for your time and energy?

I’m overwhelmed to say the least.

Canada's top rewards cards

Canada’s Top Rewards Cards from 2013 via Rewards Canada

As I’ve waded through the different points options I’ve found ranking sites helpful, they do all the work and I can read the results. Thanks! My husband and I went through our options and decided for us travel rewards were the most important and since he charges a lot of expenses for work…a travel credit card was a good option.

In fact we were even able to narrow down to Aeroplan Canada, which feels so good. I went ahead and unsubscribed from all my other points emails and began looking for ways to optimize our points collecting.

Mileage balance: 7,219

I received my monthly newsletter the other night and was pumped to see all the different ways I could collect points. And then I went to check if I had enough points to, like, go anywhere.

Not with 7,219 points I can’t. But not to worry! The newsletter gave me lots of ways to pump up my points STAT.


Whoa. Lots of options. Feeling overwhelmed…which option is best for me…

I’ve noticed a lot of television advertising lately about travel rewards credit cards. There are so many options and while it is overwhelming I’m happy there is competition. In my mind the more companies there are competing for my loyalty then the better the rewards will be. Right? That’s logical, right? Anybody?

Well, we’ll see. I’m setting a goal of taking a springtime trip completely on points. I think that’s enough time to go from 7,219 to…how many points do you need for two round-trip tickets around the world anyway?

This post was compensated but don’t worry, the story is original (and mine! And also true!)

The Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich Calorie Count Battle [McDonald’s versus Tim Hortons]

McDonald's breakfast sandwich calorie count

If you live in Canada there’s an excellent chance you’ve seen the kinda-catchy-kinda-annoying Egg McMuffin commercial (you know, the whaaaat!? one).

Well, I don’t find it annoying I find it humorous. But I know it’s annoying because I’ve heard other people say so. And that’s OK.

While you were watching, did you notice what the actors were whaaaat!?-ing about?

Because there are only 290 calories in the breakfast sandwich.

Yeah kind of a selling feature. I mean, they don’t add in the latte and hash brown but still. Whaaaaat!?

Tim Hortons breakfast sandwich calorie count

Then I noticed the Tim Hortons breakfast sandwich commercial. At first I thought they were advertising because they’d swapped the ham out for turkey but then I noticed the laid back, “Oh yeah no big deal but our breakfast sandwich not only has turkey but it’s, like, only 330 calories.”


Oh sorry, wrong restaurant.

I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. Did Tims add the calorie count because McDonald’s did? And even though it’s only 40 calories more…it’s still 40 calories more. And 200 sounds like way less than 300.

Am I over thinking this?

Then I went online to find the nutrition information. Because calories are one thing, fat and sodium are another. Beside both sandwiches there’s a button to see the info, so of course I clicked.

McDonald's Nutrition Info

The McDonald’s info was really clean and easy to find. The Tim Hortons brochure was there, but try as I may I couldn’t find the turkey breakfast sandwich. Maybe it’s not updated (the breakfast sandwich is that new?) or something. Maybe the type was too small. I don’t know.

To round out my research I decided to, you know, do a taste test (obviously) and see if the calorie count made me exclaim anything. I didn’t really notice. Although I did only eat half of my Tim Hortons breakfast sandwich but I think it had more to do with coming down with strep throat than the quality of the food.

I looked around a bit to see if anyone else was following the Canadian breakfast sandwich calorie count battle. Nope. Guess I’m the only one who thinks it’s worth mentioning.

Storytelling and Advertising, Part 2

Will Ferrell Dodge Durango

Photograph by Chrysler

I mentioned before how I think the Anchorman spots for Dodge are a home run and I want to expand a bit on my thoughts.

My Initial Thoughts

After viewing the ads a few weeks back, here is what passed through my mind.

  • The highly anticipated Anchorman sequel is coming out at the end of the year so there are some strong opportunities for co-branding—leveraging the popularity of Anchorman in order to advertise an unrelated product or brand (in this case the Dodge Durango)
  • By creating humour-based 30-second spots and putting the entire campaign on YouTube the chances of them going viral are excellent
  • By using the Ron Burgundy character to push Durangos, Dodge has the opportunity to capture the 20(&30)something market—if they’re open to purchasing new vehicles of course
  • Is this group the right target market?
  • These ads will definitely help the movie, but will they help the vehicle?

So my “home run” comment was more about the success of the viral campaign as I am on the fence of whether the bigger gamble—the selling of Durangos—will pay off.

So what does this campaign have to do with storytelling?

Without actually knowing what Dodge hopes to gain from this campaign here are my guesses. By the way, these ads are telling a story and the story is not random. (Although the ads may be.)

The Story

  • Who is the target? My hunch is those who love Ron Burgundy and who are also on social media will respond best to these ads. Those people are likely men in their late 20s, early 30s in urban areas
  • What do they want people to do? I think the goal here is to inspire people to share the ads on their social media channels in an entertainment capacity (equaling free advertising), with the underlying goal of motivating those looking for a new SUV to purchase a 2014 Dodge Durango
  • What do they want people to feel? This is a little tougher for me to guess but if I had a look at their brand book I expect to find words like “youthful,” “hip,” and “doesn’t take self too seriously.” In an effort to capture a younger buyer, the brand must frame themselves in people’s minds as representative of the generation
  • How will they accomplish this? Through co-branding, viral videos mixed with television advertising, and humour

So how is this storytelling?

While this isn’t a “once upon a time there was a company that wanted to make more money” kind of story (I know, how boring) there is a story here. It’s a company using an advertising campaign in order to tell us what kind of brand they are. They’re telling us a story of how they want to be thought about, and what kind of company they want to be.

See how interesting storytelling and advertising can be? The risk for Dodge is choosing the right target for their product/brand and the right partners to help them tell their story (through both media and co-branding).

Is it working?

You may have gathered I don’t think Anchorman will suffer from this campaign, but I’m unsure if the gamble will result in increased sales for Dodge. And it would seem I’m not the only one wondering. There’s a great article in BloombergBusinessweek on how this campaign is doing. The short story: sales up 11 per cent overall and up 59 per cent for Durango. Can this all be attributed to Ron Burgundy? Of course it’s impossible to say for sure but it’s not…not working.

Another interesting snippet from the article is the Durango is Dodge’s smallest piece of the pie as far as sales go. So this is a really interesting choice for me. It makes me wonder if this target is for the Durango only, and not the brand overall. And if that’s the case, will people outside of the target who are loyal to the brand feel turned off by this campaign? I guess we’ll have ot wait and see.