Did Cross-Device Dynamic Product Ads Spoil Christmas?

Advertisers have warmly embraced two new functionalities in 2016, increasing their utilization of dynamic product ads and expanding their remarketing efforts by leveraging cross device capabilities offered by the likes of Google, TapAd and Drawbridge.  Quarter to quarter, there was definitive growth on both strategies and as the year came to a close in Q4, the two separate strategies crossed paths in a visible manner…and that crossing of paths might have shown your spouse or your children what they were getting for Christmas.


If you are married with children, even if you didn’t notice it, you probably got served an ad at some point that was reflective of someone else’s holiday shopping in your household.  For the purposes of this blog post, we are going to pick on Amazon who without question failed terribly in their remarketing efforts in the holiday period.  But they were not alone in their missteps as cross device dynamic product ads were popping up everywhere.

The example below shows Amazon presenting an NFL logo mini fridge to my Facebook news feed.  This ad was served to my Facebook news feed within 2 minutes of my wife viewing the items and then adding them to her shopping cart.   In good fun with my wife, I started telling her I could see everything she was buying me from clear across the room and told her to not waste money on that mini fridge.  She was aghast!

In this example Amazon’s strategy didn’t properly account for how households’ interact with its Prime offering in that these households would utilize a shared Amazon account.  In my home, we have one Amazon account that myself, my wife and my two kids all use.  So not only was Amazon outing my wife’s purchases for me, they were also outing her purchases for my kids as Amazon sought to hit every device in the home connected to that shared Amazon account in combination with their amped up Header Bidding media buying efforts which delivered the ads with lightning speed.

Shortly after I brought to my wife’s attention that I didn’t want that mini-fridge, my 9 year old daughter came running into the room with her laptop showing my wife this screenshot below from Yahoo.

“Mom, these are so cool, I gotta have them for Christmas.  I need to put this on my Santa list right now!” was shouted from the lips of my daughter.  Little did she know that Santa’s little helper had just purchased them about 1 minute prior to be outed again by the Grinch called Amazon.

Moral of the story here for Advertisers is to understand how technologies might pair up and the implications that  cross-device advertising may have in the purchasing process particularly when gifting is involved.  Make sure your remarketing ads don’t pop like lightning and ensure that you integrate a proper exclusion strategy onto your campaigns to not serve Dynamic Products Ads to people that already bought the product or are in the process of purchasing.  Not only will it improve your ROI efficiency, but you won’t be outing Mom as the real Santa Claus.

Happy Holidays to all and Happy New Year…even you Grinches at Amazon.