contextual advertising

What you should know about contextual advertising

In a report by GumGum, it was revealed that about 61% of US ad publishers are using contextual advertising in 2021. It offers a more affordable and accessible option to initial campaign launches since it doesn’t require a lot of resources for a perfect implementation and a successful campaign.

Read on for all the details of contextual advertising and how you can incorporate it into your affiliate program.

What is contextual advertising?

Contextual advertising, unlike other forms of digital marketing, doesn’t rely on user behaviour, but rather the content of the webpage. Web pages are chosen based on the content it displays for an ad to be placed in. Context targeting is about the environment the user is exploring, based on the relevance of content, whereas behavioural targeting focuses on the actions and preferences of the visitor and displays adverts based on their past behaviour.

For example, if a user was looking for an article about hairstyles, amongst the ads on the page will be hair products and other fashion products. The point is to focus on where the user is in the moment rather than where the user has been. This allows publishers to create a marketing strategy based on contextual targeting, through looking at the relevance of the environment rather than collecting data from the user for curated advertisements.

How does it work?

Contextual advertising is facilitated with contextual targeting on an ad network, involving segmenting ads based on keyword or website topics. You can choose a keyword or topic to target, Google will analyse the pages in its network and try to match your advertisement to the most relevant content, taking into account text, language, page structure, link structure and keywords.

Google AdSense will take the same route as GDN by programming bots to evaluate the relevant page for keywords and assess its content for your advertisement to be displayed on. If you go with automated advertising, the ad publisher will deliver the contextual data, including categories, tags, content, keywords, URL, etc. to the ad server. The information will then be transferred to the ad networks, SSPs and exchanges that will offer it to the demand-side network which returns contextual ads.

Advantages of contextual advertising?

The main advantage of contextual advertising is that it isn’t subject to privacy regulations. Since the implementation of the General Data Protection Act (GDPR) users have been given the option to not have their data used to curate advertisements. If they opt out of the idea, the behavioural advertising on the webpage becomes null and void.

Instead of using data from the operating system a user is using, the websites they are visiting, what they like and dislike, what buttons they click on, etc. Contextual advertising says if you are looking for a hair product on this hair product website, here is a hair product.

Contextual advertising is also a lot more accessible, allowing smaller brands to advertise with fewer resources. Behavioural advertising requires more human interaction to analyse data, and therefore costs more. On top of that, there are strategies, tools, and software to think of. Contextual advertising allows brands to advertise to their people without the high number of resources.

Contextual advertising also allows for easier management of brand reputation. Behaviour targeted ads expose a website to a wide array of ads from any and every industry. This means that the website has very little control over what appears on their pages, and some ads can damage their reputation, or outright oppose what they stand for.

Since contextual advertising is focused on keywords and topics, this allows a webpage to stay in their lane. A fashion site will only display fashion items and a sports site will only advertise sports items.

Plus, there are times where context is more relevant than behaviour. Behavioural targeting is known for putting the user “in a bubble”, showing them things that they are interested in based on their past behaviour, but if the page got that data from a user looking for a certain show to watch, they watch it, and then the behavioural target keeps showing them ads for that show, that’s just a waste of everyone’s time. More often the case is that a user is looking for something they haven’t before, and therefore it isn’t being advertised to them. Maybe a user isn’t much for hairstyles, but they have a wedding coming up, behaviourally targeted ads won’t help her. Contextual advertisements within the websites she visits will get through to her.

There are pros and cons to both approaches, but contextual advertising seems to have been overlooked for behavioural, when a healthy mix of both in moderation would actually be the best strategy if your brand has the means.

If you are looking for information on managing an advertising campaign, you can take a look at our AffiliateINSIDER guides. For a conversation with an expert, get in touch with a member of our team for more assistance in this area.

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