Blog Post

2022: THE Year of Contextual Advertising

03/01/2022 - Sierra Ducey

You may be tired of hearing it, but the countdown to the cookieless future is nearing closer. With the upcoming changes on the horizon, advertisers hunt for new or alternative solutions to the historically beloved third-party cookie. As companies work to create or improve their replacement solutions, like universal IDs, it’s important to keep in mind that advertisers can already use tangible and successful tactics to reach their target audience with the same, if not better, relevancy targeting that cookies provide. 

Contextual advertising is one of those solutions. 

Contextual advertising is not new or “up and coming”; rather, some industry experts have coined it “retro.” This solution was once a fan favorite. Take mobile, for example – prior to third party cookies being readily available, advertisers leaned on contextual placements. However, once those audience targeting solutions arrived in the mobile space, it was quickly overlooked and replaced by the powers of these targeting capabilities. 

But, in keeping with the fashion metaphor, it looks like everything does come back in style. Advertisers steering away from behavioral or audience targeting combined with the recognition of technological improvements made in the contextual space is poised for a significant comeback. In fact, according to Yahoo News, 86% of media owners expect contextual solutions to grow by 2023. 

What is contextual advertising?

Contextual targeting gives advertisers the ability to reach audiences by targeting ads based on the context of the content they are consuming. Keyword, topic targeting, and AI tools are used to scan the page’s content the visitor is on and place relevant ads that match the environment of the page. 

How does it work?

To set up a successful contextual targeting campaign, advertisers need to establish what the campaign is about to align their ad with relevant content successfully. This has historically been done via keyword and topic targeting. However, as mentioned previously, contextual advertising has made leaps in bounds in advancing the technology to improve the way in which pages are analyzed. 

Today’s contextual analysis artificial intelligence goes above and beyond topics and keywords to truly understand the entire content and tone of the page through semantic targeting. With this technology, all aspects of the page are taken into account, including:

  • The sentiment of the page
  • Potential brand safety concerns
  • The overall quality of the page 
  • Viral and trending content
  • Videos on the page
  • Images on the page
  • Ad fraud possibility 
  • Multilingual content

This improved technology analyzes every page’s content holistically to understand the meaning and ensure the best possible ad placement for a brand creating a curated experience for consumers and advertisers.

With this new technology, advertisers can still decide how strict they want to be with their ads. Ranging from only placing ads on specific pages to extending the reach of our content, advertisers can also opt for different styles of contextual buys, including:

  • Board Reach: Historically, this type of ad buy didn’t require your keyword to be used on the page but simply fell within your topic list. This is a more lenient method for contextual advertising, so there is some inherent risk.
  • Specific Reach: Historically, this would entail only placing ads on pages where your keyword list was used. Think of this as a strict but not restrictive option.
  • Site lists: You provide a list of sites that you would like your ad to run on when the context is applicable. 

Improved technology in action: An example

The image above perfectly showcases how contextual targeting has improved. When looking at the content from a keyword or topic viewpoint (the traditional method for contextual buys), the word “engaged” would fall within a ring company’s keyword buy, misplacing the ad on non-relevant content. However, with semantic targeting focused on the true content of the page, it’s clear that this is a prime opportunity for a financial or investment company to get their brand in front of interested consumers. 

Benefits of Contextual advertising

1.Not dependent on cookies, making it future proof

Unlike audience targeting, which depends on a cookie to track consumers’ behavior, contextual targeting doesn’t require any cookie or third-party data to implement or run. However, it still has the effectiveness and power to get relevant ads before consumers.  

2. User privacy is top of mind

Similar to what’s mentioned above, using contextual targeting does not require any data or consumer tracking. This makes it an excellent tool for advertisers as we move away from third-party cookies but also to stay compliant with privacy protection laws like CCPA and GDPR. 

3. Brand safe environment

Because advertisers are choosing the environment their brand is showcased, there is limited risk in the context their ad will appear alongside. 

Taking this a step further, when selecting a contextual advertising partner, inquire about the brand safety measures they automatically have in their technology. Be sure to ask questions about how they identify at-risk pages and how often is their block list updated. Good data partners, like DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science, Moat and Peer39 (all partners of Digilant) use machine learning technology to continually improve how they identify patterns, expected trends, and keywords that are unsuitable need to be blocked.

4. Great user experience

Consumers have made it clear that they prefer ad experiences that align with their interests and personal experience. Contextual targeting perfectly solves these requests as your brand is showcased next to relevant content that they are already consuming. 

When cookware companies can target consumer browsing recipes, eyewear companies can target consumer reading book reviews, and furniture companies target people watching HGTV, the consumer feels as though the brand naturally fits into the setting of the content they’re consuming and therefore, it doesn’t distract. 

Contextual advertising not only improves your metrics because of its accuracy, but it improves the user experience as well. A win-win for all!

Digilant’s Advanced Contextual Solutions

According to OpenSlate, brands plan to spend about 20% of the media budget on contextual advertising in 2022. At Digilant, we understand the value of this solution for brands looking to move away from third-party cookies and simply make better connections with consumers. 

Our Advanced Contextual Solutions uses the industry’s best data providers, including Peer39, Oracle, Comscore, and MOAT, to ensure our clients receive the best and safest contextual targeting available. Solutions across display, mobile, social, search, alongside trending channels like digital audio and OTT/CTV, give advertisers a full suite of capabilities to target consumers contextually. 

Are you interested in learning more about implementing contextual advertising into your media mix? We’re eager to talk! Contact us here. 

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