Contextual Targeting: What’s Old Is New Again, Only Better

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Goodway Group POV

Contextual Targeting What’s Old Is New Again, Only Better PREPARED BY

Laura Taylor Programmatic Trader, Center of Excellence (CoE) at Goodway Group March 2022

Goodway Group POV


Back in Vogue When behavioral targeting was born, many pushed contextual targeting to the side. But as the ad tech industry prepares for targeting in a more privacyfocused future – where you’ll no longer be able to solely rely on third-party cookies to help identify your ideal audience for advertising – there are more than a few ways to incorporate contextual elements into your strategy. Why is contextual targeting back in the limelight and worthy of a second look? You might remember it as simply page-level targeting (advertising based on the content and keywords on a webpage), but there are additional contextual types you can explore – from streaming through connected devices to real-time geolocation signals to social influencers to even current weather conditions:

Connected TV: With all the sophisticated technology integrated into smart TVs today, you can use audience content recognition (ACR) data to identify what people are watching based on the audio and visual signals, providing an opportunity to contextually retarget them across all devices and environments including connected TV (CTV). Say you’re a mattress retailer and want to target people who have recently watched the hit home renovation show Fixer Upper. You can. In fact, you can even buy streamers at distinct light, medium or heavy viewership levels. This is an interesting capability because you can’t do this type of content retargeting from a display perspective across the web.

Location: Geofencing may not be what you typically think of as contextual, and yet it is. For instance, say you’re an advertiser wanting to get in front of Bed, Bath & Beyond shoppers. Location-based contextual targeting gives you the power – lets you show consumers relevant ads for small kitchen appliances in the moment they are shopping at a retailer location, or in the days after their visit. Social: This isn’t talked about much, but there’s one social platform that has unique contextual capabilities, and that’s YouTube. Not only can buyers choose to run on YouTube channels that align to their brand’s product or service but also can even select some of the content where their ads will appear.

Weather: Raining? Freezing? Blazing hot? Whatever the weather, you can make it work in your favor in real time with weather contextual targeting. Say you’re a coffeehouse wanting more foot traffic. On a snowy day, you could send an ad to potential customers nearby that touts your latest coffee concoction to get more people through your doors. One note, though: If or how the loss of third-party cookies will affect these additional contextual types is yet to be determined.

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Goodway Group POV


Diverse Contextual Companies, Diverse Capabilities Like the many contextual targeting types available, many contextual targeting companies are on the scene. Amazon, Criteo, Google, Grapeshot, GumGum, Integral Ad Science,, Peer39 and Zefr come to mind, and they as well as others are doing interesting things right now, focusing on innovation and giving contextual targeting an upgrade by powering it with first-party data. Some contextual platforms currently can ingest multiple data points, dynamically update ad creative or ad copy in real time and even leverage advanced content analysis tools around sentiment, natural language and semantics. This allows you to match ads more precisely and safely to relevant environments across the web using topics, images, video, audio and more. In addition, creative management platforms are increasingly offering contextual targeting, which means you can assign varying creative and messages, each within their own contexts.

Why Contextual Targeting Matters

Some contextual platforms currently can ingest multiple data points, dynamically update ad creative or ad copy in real time and even leverage advanced content analysis tools around sentiment, natural language and semantics. — Laura Taylor Programmatic Trader, CoE Goodway Group

Renewed interest in contextual targeting makes sense when you consider this recent research.

DoubleVerify, while conducting a recent survey, found • 69% of respondents would be more likely to look at an ad if it were relevant to the content they were reading. • 67% of those respondents were open to viewing relevant ads from new brands, so long as they were in the right environment. • 44% of respondents had tried a new brand due to seeing a relevant ad alongside a piece of content. GumGum and SPARK Neuro launched a study to examine how an ad’s contextual relevance to content influences consumers and discovered • ads with the most contextual relevance elicited 43% more neural engagement and 2.2 times better ad recall. • contextually relevant ads inspired a statistically significant increase in purchase intent. Integral Ad Science (IAS) conducted its own study and shared • 74% of consumers like to see ads that match the content they’re viewing. • 70% of consumers find it somewhat important that advertising is relevant to the content they’re consuming. • 60% of consumers are likely to remember a contextually relevant ad.

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Goodway Group POV


5 Reasons Why Contextual Targeting Is Popular Again Contextual targeting is an old-school standby that’s enjoying quite the resurgence; here are good reasons why.


2. 3.

Adheres to Regulations and Restrictions Because contextual targeting only crawls site or app content to target an ad, it doesn’t require users’ personal info nor does it track or target users directly. With privacy regulations getting tighter all the time and the end of third-party cookies looming on the horizon, contextual targeting operates outside the bounds of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as well as other privacy regulations and browser-specific restrictions, making it a solid and appealing tactic once again. Unlike many of the current proposed cookieless alternatives, contextual is a tactic that can be implemented in nearly every programmatic channel; provide reach while retaining user privacy; and offer efficient pricing in comparison to third-party audience data and proven success newer options lack.

Makes Sense to the End Users Aligning brand messaging with content can drive more action. If users see relevant ads next to content they’re reading, listening to or watching, the advertising feels natural; it fits in. Your ads may be more interesting and impactful simply because users come across them while they’re already in the right mindset and in the right place at the right time.

Offers Broad and Niche Reach Expanded audience pools lead to new customers. Contextual targeting provides better opportunities to cast a wider net from the start and engage qualified audiences who are interested in the moment as they move through the purchase funnel. Contextual targeting can also help you find hard-toreach audiences too. For instance, to extend a Hispanic audience with CTV, you can use ACR data to find streamers watching Spanish-language content, and this offers one way to reach those niche audiences without having to rely on third-party signals.

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Goodway Group POV


Reduces Ad Fatigue Contextual targeting can reduce ad fatigue and improve reach and frequency performance. Securing the right contextual ad placement on the web can appear as if you bought an expensive advertorial, paid to sponsor content to reach high-intent audiences. Except with contextual, you can affordably get in front of a ton of people at one time and gain a larger reach with less frequency, and at higher-value touch points. Contextual targeting on the web is equivalent to how it works in real life: It’s like when a sunscreen manufacturer buys a large retailer’s brickand-mortar store aisle end cap to display its sunscreen in the seasonal section. Placing sunscreen here along with the life jackets and sand toys is a natural fit because the products go together. Interested, qualified shoppers are already looking to buy related items for the beach or pool and may be ready to take that assumed next possible step, buying sunscreen. Contextual targeting is one smart way, on the web and off, to help boost sales.



Gives You More Control Here’s how to make contextual targeting work for you. Identify a few articles where you’d like to appear and use a keyword scraping tool to pull all the existing keywords from each webpage. Select the keywords from the list that make the most sense for your product or service and use those keywords to find comparable articles until you’ve built out your ideal keyword list.


Won The Context Award for Best Application of Positive Contextual Targeting

Curious how to build a successful and award-winning contextual campaign? See how we used contextual targeting to drive incremental exposure, exceed benchmarks and increase contextual revenue for our strategic automotive client by 194%!

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You’re in charge and can easily revise your keywords whenever you need. You can use pre-built contextual segments or build them yourself and can give a higher priority or scoring to different keywords and layer on sentiment. You can even blend tactics to accomplish your goals. For instance, now you can layer site targeting for more granularity, behavioral targeting or brand suitability and safety measures to optimize your contextual targeting approach.

If you’d like to talk more about finding customers when they’re in the right moment and mindset to buy, reach out to us at Goodway Group is the digital partner advertisers trust to drive campaign performance and media efficiency. Proud to be completely independently owned and operated, Goodway provides trustworthy expertise that meets its clients’ needs – and no one else’s. Using predictive intelligence, Goodway helps advertisers get the most value out of every impression across all paid digital media. Through the combination of employing the smartest technology and the most experienced people in the industry, Goodway delivers authentic results.

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