Ever feel like certain adverts are following you round the internet, lurking on websites that are totally unrelated, jumping out at you when you’re not interested?

You’re right, they are, Google Adwords and many other advertising platforms make it easy to target you with ads based on sites you’ve visited, if you visits greenwidgets.com, a cookie can be placed in your browser so that adverts for green widgets can be served up to you on any other site that rents advertising space.

With my marketing hat on, I love this, it’s a great way to make sure that you show relevant ads to people who have already visited your site. But with my consumer hat on, I hate remarketing with a passion, just because I visited your site once for 10 seconds before I realised it was rubbish and left does not mean I want to see your equally rubbish adverts everywhere I go. Imagine going in to a shop, glancing round and leaving only to be followed around for the next week by people with advertising placards who jump in to your line of sight at every opportunity.

By all means use remarketing, but if you don’t want to irritate potential customers to the point where they view your brand as a creepy stalker, make sure you take the appropriate precautions.

1) Cap the number of daily impressions.

By default, there is no cap on the maximum number of times per day that a visitor will see your ads. Change this, do it now. What cap you place on the number of impressions is up to you, but I would suggest no more than 8 per day. Not only will this help avoid annoying people but if you’re paying CPM it will keep your costs down.

2) Vary your ads

Seeing ten different ads for the same product is slightly less annoying than seeing the same ad ten times. It also gives you useful data on which type of ads get the best CTR.

3) Don’t preach to the choir.

I use a certain well known hosted ecommerce solution. I’m already a customer and I like the product, I recommend whenever I’m asked, they really don’t need to advertise to me, and yet everywhere I go I’m harassed by the same ads.

Fortunately this is easy to avoid, you can set multiple audiences within adwords, so as well as the “visited my site once” group, you can have a “has an account” group. Now all you have to do is exclude the second group and your loyal customers won’t get bugged by ads for something they already buy and you won’t waste money doing it.

There is an exception; if you are selling a consumable item that people buy on a regular cycle – like razor blades – then you can target them, but be clever about it. Create a “people who bought razor blades” group with a cookie duration of a bit less than the average buying cycle and another “people who bought razor blades” group with a longer cookie duration. Include the second, exclude the first and you’ll be showing your ads to people who bought razorblades a while ago and are probably about to run out. Win.

4) Be specific

If I land on your site via a search for a specific product and you show me ads for a load of other stuff I never even looked at then the chances are I won’t click. Identify high traffic landing pages and create audiences specific to them, then show relevant ads. Your CTR will be higher and you won’t waste money showing ads for perfume to people who came to your site looking for spanners.

Adwords remarketing is a beautiful, powerful tool capable of intricate, finely detailed campaigns that show the right ads to the right people at the right time. Use it that way, don’t use it as blunt instrument.