Contextual Targeting: Reaching Your Audience Through Relevant Search | Adtaxi

Contextual Targeting: Reaching Your Audience Through Relevant Search


Jennifer Flanagan

Feb 02 2022

Over the past few years, online privacy has become much more important to consumers. U.S. mobile users are least likely to share data online simply to receive more relevant ads, putting it on marketers to not only understand their ideal customer, but to also reach them without using first- or third-party data.

One effective way to balance personalization and privacy is through contextual keyword targeting. This strategy isn’t new, but it’s more relevant than ever. Keep reading to learn how to make your ads more relevant to consumers while complying with privacy regulations.

The Basics of Contextual Keyword Targeting

Contextual targeting is done by matching marketer-selected keywords and categories to websites that align with the chosen keyword and category themes. This strategy is ideal because it’s rooted in relevance and requires no additional information beyond what individual consumers are already searching for.

Well-crafted buyer personas and customer journey maps are helpful when planning for contextual keyword targeting, too. A deep understanding of your buyers makes it easier to brainstorm the kind of sites your ideal customer will visit when searching for your product or service. Those are the websites to keep in mind when building out your ad groups and keyword lists.

If done correctly, marketers can combine contextual targeting with their adjusted first- and third-party strategies (even as these strategies become more challenging to navigate) for a personalized customer experience.

Keywords and Categories: How to Choose the Right Parameters

Let’s review the basics of setting up contextual targeting criteria with Google Ads.

Create ad groups with specific themes. Develop your ad groups so they directly relate to your products and services. For example, someone who owns a home goods store could create individual ad groups for kitchen accessories, bathroom accessories, and office accessories.

Give each ad group its own keywords list. Ads created through Google can have from 5 to 50 keywords associated with them. While it might be tempting to double-up on important keywords, Google recommends not duplicating within ad groups. Instead, generate keywords closely associated with the specific category.

Use short, specific terms for paid ads and reserve long-tail keywords for your team’s SEO operations. In the case of the home goods store, the kitchen accessories group could include “stand mixer,” “waffle iron,” “coffee maker,” and other similar terms to capture top-of-funnel customers.

Select negative keywords. Negative keywords keep your ads from showing up on pages that don’t align with your product offering. For example, the home goods store could set “garbage disposal” as a negative keyword. While it’s associated with a kitchen, it doesn’t have anything to do with their products, and someone searching for kitchen plumbing solutions isn’t necessarily in the market for a panini press.

Determine bids for ad groups. Set your bids so your ad can be placed on websites matching your keyword and topic criteria. Websites within the Google Display Network are scanned for content, important keywords, page structure, and other factors to determine if your ads are a good fit for the page. If the criteria aligns, you’re eligible to bid.

Respect Privacy and Increase Relevance with Contextual Targeting

Establishing credibility and trust is key to the success of any business, and contextual keyword targeting helps marketers build such trust. Consider this: if someone looking at a running shoe website was served an ad for a local lawn care company, they’d likely question who had access to what data and feel less secure about their online searches. 

But contextual keyword targeting doesn’t track users or collect data, making it one of the least invasive digital advertising tactics. In short, this strategy creates a more natural search experience by only displaying ads fitting the website’s theme.

Contextual targeting makes sense from a budgetary perspective as well. If advertisers are only paying when people interact with digital ads, then showing highly relevant ads makes it more likely that anyone clicking through has a higher intent to purchase.

Contextual targeting is also a faster way of getting your products or services noticed than relying solely on SEO (though many digital campaigns use a combination of PPC and SEO for best results). Where SEO is a long game, contextual targeting allows your ads to display with the right search; you just need to have your bids set. Plus, you can test different ad configurations and optimize more quickly, saving time and money.

The rules and regulations around digital advertising can be a lot to keep up with. Contextual keyword targeting can be a key part of creating a better online experience by helping you focus on what consumers really want, both in terms of products and privacy.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates