Enhancing Marketing with Contextual Targeting

    Contextual Target

    As the marketing industry moves towards cookie deprecation, the revival of contextual advertising has gained momentum. Data privacy is a huge focus today. As cookies go out, many other privacy-related changes are sprouting in the digital world. Amidst these changes, online privacy is becoming a growing concern for consumers.

    According to a report, ‘Future of Privacy-first Advertising’ by IAS

    Future of Privacy-first Advertising

    With media quality at the forefront, marketers need to implement strategies that suit the new era of privacy. This is where contextual advertising can be helpful.

    Contextual targeting is not a new idea. Earlier, it worked by matching a webpage’s content with an ad’s content based on keywords.

    Given the effectiveness of this method and the lax approach to privacy rights on the Internet, businesses shifted toward behavioral targeting. This enabled them to serve more personalized content.

    User data was a low-hanging fruit before stringent privacy laws like GDPR were enforced. Moreover, personalization was and still is a valid way of driving conversions.

    However, the old methods didn’t hold up when tested in the modern marketing era. This is why contextual advertising is growing as a viable option. It is for marketers and advertisers looking to adopt effective, privacy-first targeting strategies.

    How does contextual targeting work?

    Contextual targeting has become more advanced with the help of AI algorithms.

    These algorithms can accurately analyze the content, understand the context, and extract the most relevant information. This has enabled marketers to place more focused ads and reach their target audience more effectively.

    Content matching is not solely based on keywords anymore. Moreover, AI enables the use of first-party datasets to predict how users consume content. AI can also identify behavioral patterns based on earlier user behavior.

    This approach combines contextual and behavioral targeting while prioritizing privacy. Personal data is not necessary for AI to function effectively.

    Contextual data is the final aspect. This kind of targeting relies on limited data, greatly impacting its effectiveness.

    However, the range of available contextual data is broader. It can include local weather, time of day, current events and trends, and the content presented to viewers.

    Contextual targeting in advertising

    The latest iteration of contextual targeting, supported by AI models, has become one of the marketing industry’s most promising privacy-first targeting methods.

    This targeting method resonates with users’ need for personalized experiences and, simultaneously, with their reluctance to share their data too easily.

    According to McKinsey and Company report on Customer-centric marketing,

    McKinsey and Company report

    Contextual targeting is a promising approach to privacy-conscious advertising. It allows for less intrusive ad deliveries without compromising performance.

    With advancements in AI, contextual targeting has become more sophisticated and can analyze content across different devices more effectively.

    The benefits of contextual advertising

    1. Economical and simpler to execute

    Data is essential to the success of behavioral advertising. In other words, businesses need tools to gather and analyze data, plans for how to use that data, and people- to ensure a smooth process.

    Behavioral advertising may be more effective for companies with more resources and customer data. Contextual advertising can provide relevance while being a simple and cost-effective alternative.

    Contextual advertising can reach a wider audience, making it an effective tool for driving traffic to the website.

    2. Not restricted by privacy laws

    The General Data Protection Act was the first legislation to categorize cookies as personal information, outlining strict collection guidelines. Since then, the regulatory organizations have imposed hefty fines on violators of user data privacy.

    All nations are now adopting similar regulations, signaling the end of behavioral advertising’s no-holds-barred approach.

    While this is good for data privacy, it makes gathering browsing behavior more difficult than before. The solution is, that cookies are there, but site users must consent to use cookies for advertising.  It is now necessary to obtain their express consent.

    Fortunately, contextual advertising doesn’t use private information to serve ads. So, despite the death of cookies, advertisers who want to ensure their ads are displayed on compliant pages can still do so.

    3. Increased brand security

    Brands must be concerned not only with legal safety but also with reputational safety. Additionally, it has occasionally been challenging for behavioral advertisers to maintain. Advertisements in non-brand-safe contexts, such as adult or intrusive content, are becoming more and more noticeable to brands. However, this is a risk of basing ad placement solely on user behavior.

    With contextual targeting, the campaign’s centerpiece is the website where the advertisement appears.

    4. Context can be more significant than behavior

    Marketers are aware of the effectiveness of personalization in a marketing strategy. But only because it increases the relevance of an advertisement. An advertisement tailored to a user’s past actions may not be relevant to them in the present- because they no longer require the product.

    Retargeting based on past behavior is effective, but it is not always as relevant as an ad based on what a visitor is viewing.

    Instead of retargeting on every website in the display network, marketers could try it on websites relevant to the product.

    5. Relevant without being intrusive

    Some users complain that they see too many ads from the same companies and that these ads follow them even after they make a purchase. They are ” annoying” and “intrusive.”

    Intrusive retargeting results from bad advertising and tactics like frequency capping can control it. If marketers can provide relevance without pushing the audience out, it’s certainly worth implementing.

    Contextual advertising can accomplish this. A user is less likely to feel an advertisement is following them around if it is related to the content they’re consuming. Even if the ad follows the user, it’s much less evident when it fits contextually.

    Also Read: Contextual Targeting – How It Can Navigate Brands for Upcoming Cookie-less Marketplace


    Contextual targeting is becoming a popular way to advertise while respecting privacy. It allows for more natural and less invasive ad placements, all while maintaining good performance. The latest contextual targeting version has seen significant enhancements with the assistance of AI. AI enables a better understanding and analysis of content, no matter which device it appears on.

    With the phase-out of third-party cookies, marketers sought a more privacy-friendly way to gather customer data. Contextual targeting could be that privacy-friendly alternative marketers can use now.

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    Swapnil Mishra
    Swapnil Mishra is a global news correspondent at TalkCMO, with over six years of experience in the field. Specializing in marketing technologies, Swapnil has established herself as a trusted voice in the industry. Having collaborated with various media outlets, she has honed her skills in content strategy, executive leadership, business strategy, industry insights, best practices, and thought leadership. As a journalism graduate, Swapnil possesses a keen eye for editorial detail and a mastery of language, enabling her to deliver compelling and informative news stories. She has a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex technical concepts into easy-to-understand language.