How Contextual Targeting Made a Comeback in 2022
Data & Analytics
Jun 21 2022
We talk a lot about meeting your customers where they are online, but what does that mean exactly? For digital marketers, finding the natural connection between a specific audience’s online activity and their potential interests in branded content has long been the goal of nearly every digital ad campaign. But as available customer data becomes increasingly protected, ecommerce brands have begun digging up new methods of finding where their ads will be most welcomed — and rediscovering old targeting methods that may have a place in the future of the digital marketplace.
Here’s why contextual targeting has quickly found itself back in style, and what brands can do about it.
What Does Contextual Targeting Mean?
Contextual targeting pairs organic web content with relevant digital ads. It circumvents the need for third-party cookies by simply tagging ad content with keywords and categories to match a user’s searches. This particular method of online advertising is also the reason a user might start seeing ads for their local car dealership once they click on a MotorTrend article, even if that dealership doesn’t have any specific customer profile on them.
Three Reasons Marketers Are Returning to Contextual Targeting
As you might have guessed, the return of contextual targeting’s prominence in ecommerce circles has a lot to do with the shift away from the third-party cookie digital economy. However, it boasts a number of additional advantages you might want to consider when working it into your updated marketing budget.
First, it helps mitigate the “banner blindness” of traditional display advertising by appearing only where it is most beneficial to a user. Years of being bombarded with ads have trained most users to simply ignore areas of a webpage generally dedicated to ad space, but contextual targeting and native ads have both found success in drawing interest (even among users who recognize these as advertisements).
Second, 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. Any ad strategy capable of guiding ads to those who will most benefit from them has an opportunity to perform in the present-day landscape of increased data privacy.
Third, the campaign set up for contextual ads can be as broad or as focused as your brand prefers. Marketers can deploy contextual pre-roll video ads for top-funnel awareness campaigns using contextual categories, or develop deeply specific keywords to zone in on a smaller, more qualified audience. The ability to target varying stages of the funnel makes this a versatile addition to every marketer’s digital toolbox.
Why is Contextual Targeting Making a Comeback in 2022?
Smart contextual targeting benefits the customer and the advertiser. It incentivizes businesses to avoid large-scale spamming and instead rewards savvy keyword and category usage with valuable data and insights. It also helps users discover new brands and products they feel genuinely drawn to, without sacrificing their personal data privacy. It’s also flexible enough to take the form of your most valuable ad format — contextual video.
While there are no guarantees in the world of ad tech, it’s a safe bet that implementing contextual targeting now will help generate qualified audiences for your brand. The recent emphasis on personal data privacy is already setting things in motion across virtually every industry, and the algorithms guiding major social platforms and search engines to branded content will continue to evolve. Learning the ins and outs of effective contextual targeting is a worthy endeavor, both for your business and its soon-to-be customers.