Contextual Targeting in 2021: Here’s What You Need to Know

by | Marketing

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Meet the Author

Liz Hersh is the founder of Hersh PR and Marketing, a digital marketing agency. Together with a team of marketing professionals she helps clients generate leads and increase revenue. 

Remain Relevant and Visible with Contextual Targeting 

Advertisers see the best results when they showcase their brand alongside relevant content that their target audience pursues online. However, in today’s environment, this also means balancing concerns over third-party data and reaching consumers without intruding on their privacy. You probably know what this entails. How many times have you gone on a social media platform and seen advertisements related to your recent internet searches?

While cookie-based advertising has been the norm over the last decade, concerns over data privacy have led to contextual advertising making a comeback.

What is Contextual Targeting?

Contextual targeting isn’t new. In fact, it’s an approach used by marketers for decades. Think of vendors in a trade magazine, make-up in a fashion publication or a sporting goods manufacturer at a sports event.

In the realm of digital advertising, contextual targeting means that you’ll be selecting where your ads appear, or dynamically adjusting your ad creative to better align with the content and keywords on a website.

Contextual Targeting vs Behavioral Targeting

For the last decade or so, behavioral targeting has been the industry standard. This approach selects ads for users based on past purchases, browsing behavior and even in-store movement from data captured by mobile phones. Behavioral targeting allows organizations to “purchase” intent via cookies, mobile/location data, purchases on third party websites, payment processors and other shared data sources.

Behavioral targeting isn’t going away, but it will be more difficult to accomplish with recent changes to cookie policies and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). For this reason, contextual targeting holds several benefits over behavioral targeting.

Benefits of Contextual Targeting

Companies can protect their brand, enhance their favorability, and engage more consumers with contextual targeting.

Relevancy: This approach places advertisements that are relevant to the content, making it much more genuine than behavioral targeting. Remember that behavioral targeting utilizes cookies and other stored data to push advertisements, which is not the case with contextual targeting.

Remain Privacy-Friendly: Because you are creating and placing ads yourself in contextual targeting, it values the privacy of the buyer much more. The content of the website is used for targeting rather than past behavior.

Pro Tip: The better you can understand the context of a page, the better your ad matching will be. 

How to Get Started with Contextual Targeting

One of the reasons many marketers turned away from contextual targeting is because requires a little more effort than behavioral targeting. While both forms of advertising aim to serve relevant ads to audiences at the right time, behavioral targeting leverages data to select most, if not all, ad placements and bidding strategies.

Here are some initial steps you can take before you engage with an agency. Unless you’re extremely familiar with the nuances of digital ad campaigns, you will likely need a trusted partner to guide you.

Review/revamp your buyer personas: Contextual targeting is successful if you know exactly who you want to target and what their exact interests are. Remember, the goal of this kind of targeting is to marry content with advertising to make sure that the visitor’s problems will be solved. Every organization should have a clear and concise description of their target audiences.

Understand your buyer’s journey: It’s also helpful to understand the various stages a buyer will experience prior to purchasing your product or service – from education to consideration to decision. Organizations should focus on creating a consistent experience for potential customers, ensuring all channels work together to bring customers through the buyer’s journey across different touchpoints on different platforms.

Brainstorming topics and keywords: To place your ads on relevant websites, you’ll need to tell your advertising system what topics and keywords are important. Topics are broad categories like “sports” or “yoga”. Keywords are for more precise targeting within your broad topics. Together, topics and keywords will help determine where your ads should be placed.

Your Next Steps 

If you want to keep your brand visible and relevant, then contextual targeting is an ideal option. It’s about making sure that the right product/service is shown alongside the right content of any given website or social media page — without intruding on privacy.

Hopefully the tips above will help improve your digital advertising. Have more questions about contextual targeting? Reach out to us directly.

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