How Contextual Category Targeting Can Find You New Customers
Data & Analytics
Jul 20 2022
Marketers are always looking for the sweet spot between ad personalization and data privacy. With new privacy regulations impacting several go-to digital targeting techniques over the past few years, contextual targeting has reclaimed its place among tried-and-true strategies for reaching customers where they are and discovering new audiences.
Contextual targeting can take a few different forms — keyword targeting (previously covered here) is an effective addition to any advertiser’s tool belt. But beyond individual keywords, marketers can employ contextual categories to similarly attract new users to their brand.
Here’s a look at what makes contextual category targeting so effective, how it can be used to attract new customers, and why it’s worth emphasizing in your next big campaign push.
What Makes Contextual Category Targeting Work
In essence, contextual targeting matches organic web content with relevant digital ads. A contextual targeting campaign eliminates any reliance on third-party cookies by tagging ad content with keywords and category themes to match related searches.
It’s a strategy aimed at creating value through relevance alone and doesn’t require any additional customer data information beyond a user’s search query. As we’ve discussed previously, well-crafted buyer personas and customer journey maps can further enhance contextual targeting’s effectiveness, making it easier to brainstorm the kind of sites your average customer is likely to visit when seeking a similar product or service to your own.
And the best part? It can be used for virtually any industry, no matter how niche. Next time you type a spicy wing sauce recipe into a search engine, be on the lookout for ads from related businesses like kitchen appliance brands and meal delivery services — this is contextual targeting at work.
Finding New Customers Through Contextual Category Targeting
A good targeting method taps into new audience pools and expands the reach of your brand’s relevant ad placements. In an age where customers are more careful about how their data is shared and used online, contextual targeting offers a fair compromise. Users can more easily trust brands that provide timely, relevant ads without offering up sensitive personal information, and in turn, brands receive insights into what content their customers spend their time consuming organically without the need to track them across devices or collect more granular data.
There’s also a natural link between users who interact with contextual ads and their intent to purchase. Contextual targeting combines a potential customer’s preferred organic content with branded content likely to represent at least some measure of interest, generating quality leads even without prior knowledge of the customer’s activity. For small-to-medium-sized businesses launching their initial digital campaigns, contextual category targeting makes a strong starting point.
Setting up your campaign for contextual category targeting can also be geared toward every stage of the sales funnel. As with all digital targeting levers, broad categories can cast a wide net for maximum views while hyper-specific categories will reserve ad spend for only the most qualified engagements. The ability to target varying stages of the funnel makes this a versatile tool advertisers can make use of in virtually any campaign or format.
Is Contextual Category Targeting Future-Proof?
While third-party cookies aren’t entirely nonexistent (yet), it’s evident marketers will need to develop fresh approaches in the months and years ahead. The task of finding new customers while respecting privacy laws that seem to constantly be in flux might seem complex, but contextual targeting is a relatively simple and effective solution. By identifying the categories uniquely suited to promote their brand, marketers can safely avoid breaching data privacy and still grow a pool of highly-qualified leads.
Smart contextual targeting incentivizes businesses to avoid large-scale spamming and rewards savvy category usage with valuable data and insights. As is the case with contextual keyword campaigns, categories also help users discover new brands and products they feel genuinely drawn to without sacrificing their personal data privacy.
Digital marketing is an environment undergoing constant evolution, which can make it difficult for marketers to commit to strategies, experiment with optimizations, and compare performance year over year. While the precise future of targeting is subject to change, contextual category targeting’s track record of success and resilience to data privacy changes make it a reliable tool for advertisers for years to come.