Why Contextual Targeting Is The Next Big Thing In Advertising

April 14, 2023
7 minutes

Brands and online advertisers have brought contextual targeting back on their agenda after overlooking it in favour of more privacy-intrusive substitutes. But thanks to GDPR policies getting stricter and browsers going cookie-less, the contextual comeback is happening.

Almost 50% of advertisers in the USA and a third in the UK define contextual targeting as their preferred targeting type. At Eskimi, we believe contextual targeting never fully departed and its renascence can possibly reward display advertisers.

So make sure you take time to consider contextual targeting and include it into your online marketing for 2020. This kind of targeting format gets your product in front of customers in a natural way, increasing engagement and the potential for leads.

In this article, we’ll discuss what contextual targeting is, its key benefits, and its impact on the contemporary privacy-friendly advertising landscape.

What is contextual targeting?

Unlike behavioural targeting where tracking pixels and cookies are used, contextual targeting utilises keywords on a web page to show ads. It shows relevant ads based on content on the page.

Contextual targeting creates a positive influence on customers browsing the website. The ads shown are contextually relevant, so they get better viewability.

According to a survey conducted by Seedtag, the leading visual media platform, contextual targeting with rich media ads resulted in a stronger view quality as measured by eye-tracking.

When advertisers have the option of directing their ad campaigns toward the right individual or the right place, context is becoming more of a priority.

Source: Komarketing

Here’s an example from a Wall Street Journal page to better understand how contextual targeting works. It’s a screenshot of the main story about increasing fuel demand.

As you can see, the ad shown on the sidebar is of Winergy Gearboxes, a renewable energy product. So, this contextually relevant ad fits aptly right next to content related to diminishing natural resources.

There are two common ways to target contextually within digital and display advertising:

1. Directly choosing what creative your advertisements display next to, or altering the content of the ad creative, depending on the content and keywords on a web page.

2. Programmatically targeting with your Demand Side Platform (DSP) and purchasing ad inventory that matches keywords and phrases.

Advantages of contextual targeting

Contextual targeting offers a personal touch and increases your chances of attaining a conversion. It has many advantages, including:

It helps combat banner noise

Banner noise or banner blindness is a common occurrence that has taught customers to subconsciously overlook advertisements. Yet, contextual targeting can help tackle this issue simply by serving relevant ads.

For instance, a film review site showing ads for a cinema ticket booking platform is more contextually relevant than displaying ads related to toys.

Infolinks carried out a survey on fighting banner blindness. It observed that contextually relevant advertisements of less-popular brands were remembered 82% more by users as compared to ads of well-known brands that were unrelated to site content.

It protects consumers’ privacy

Contextual targeting doesn’t participate in misusing customer information for tracking online behaviour. All the advertisements created via contextual targeting utilise keywords, which helps publishers in developing trust among their audience.

It is privacy-friendly as your advertisement is shown depending on the content and keywords included on a site – not the customer. This is also supportive in terms of GDPR alterations as it means while you carry on rebuilding your critical consumer list, you can still get in front of the right audience.

It increases CTR

Ad placement is important. An advertisement positioned next to/between relevant content instantly increases its worth and consequently, offers a higher click-through rate (CTR) potential.

Contextual targeting can benefit all – customers, publishers, and businesses. It aids customers by familiarising them with related merchandise via targeted ads. When customers see related ads, ad viewability increases and there is a greater probability of a high CTR.

It improves relevancy

Your advertisement will only be shown on websites considered to be relevant to your product or service. This guarantees you’re viewed by those who are more likely to consider purchasing from you. Also, there’s no misunderstanding from those seeing the site regarding context.

It’ll overcome Google’s prospective restriction of keyword targeting

Google plans to eliminate content identifiers and stop notifying advertisers about the kind of content their advertisements could be positioned in conjunction with. When using contextual targeting, you don’t have to worry about this and still be present where it is important.

Is contextual targeting making a comeback?

First things first, contextual targeting was never ‘gone’. It was once among the prevailing types of online targeting. It just wasn’t extremely popular as its performance was lower than cookie-based targeting.

However, the influence of GDPR and the current browser conflicts are most certainly the biggest influencers in the resurrection of contextual advertising. Here are a few reasons why contextual targeting is going to be the next big thing in advertising – again.

Third-party cookie alternative

As discussed earlier, contextual targeting doesn’t need third-party cookies because it doesn’t target the customer directly in any manner. But there is one more motive behind the growing popularity of contextual targeting – the browser conflict.

Safari and Firefox are now limiting the use of third-party cookies and Google has announced that it’ll be blocking cookies in the next two years. This is going to alter the way companies target and retarget in display advertising.

As per an eMarketer survey, contextual targeting is on the increase. That’s because it offers greater guarantee and security that targeting customers by content is a more privacy-friendly practice.

A better understanding of brand safety

Brand safety can be challenging with contextual advertising. Formerly there have been countless dreadful misalignments. For instance, there could be a news story about a city in the UK. However, the ability to tell if the story is about a massacre or an upcoming music event makes a huge difference if you’re a music company finding ad placements.

Nowadays, the use of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) offers a more precise understanding of content. This ensures companies can target their users in a brand-safe manner, including sentiment analysis. As a result, you can avoid sensitive content that can lead to embarrassment.

Cutting-edge AI for content analysis

Another solid reason for the growing popularity of contextual targeting is advancement in content analysis. There’s a remarkable improvement in algorithms and AI that analyse the website content. This not only helps in identifying new placements but also assists with understanding the connotation of the content and webpages for placing ads.

As mentioned, this goes beyond just keywords. It involves the ability to read sentiments and analyse related images. This also comprises the use of advanced systems using proximity pattern matching algorithms that are independent of language. This helps upturn matching precision. Moreover, publishers have also improved at taxonomising their content.

Wrap up

Contextual targeting in a post-GDPR ecosphere is gaining popularity. As a result, this targeting format has the potential to improve with time.

Remember, the ad tech industry is highly unpredictable and both the demand- and sell-side continually need to review their technical requirements. For enduring the third-party cookie apocalypse, publishers must reconsider their targeting approaches. Contextual targeting seems to be an effective solution that publishers can adopt.

Finally, keep in mind that customers are the biggest asset that the digital advertising ecosystem has. So you should prioritise keeping users satisfied and in control of their information.

The bottom line is that contextual targeting necessitates digital advertisements that are both ingenious and related. So, you need to have the best ad technology at your fingertips. Eskimi DSP is an exclusive tech platform that allows brands and agencies to run programmatic campaigns using display, native, video, or rich media formats. You can optimise towards your marketing outcomes using automated tools powered by machine learning and algorithms. Get in touch to learn more.

Philip is the CMO of Eskimi. When he’s not busy growing the Eskimi brand, he spends his time with family and playing ping pong.
Philip is the CMO of Eskimi. When he’s not busy growing the Eskimi brand, he spends his time with family and playing ping pong.
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