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The Rise of Contextual Advertising

When it comes to advertising techniques, there are two commonly-used techniques: behavioral advertising and contextual advertising. Both of these aim to show ads based on users’ interests. However, they go about it very differently.

The benefits of behavioral advertising, or delivering ads based on a person’s web-browsing behavior, seem pretty clear. This technique means tracking user behavior for deeper personalization, and isn’t that what you want when trying to find your target audience?

In many ways, behavioral advertising is a great way to find and advertise to the people you want. They’ve been looking at new refrigerators for the last two weeks, so that’s a pretty strong indicator that they want to purchase one. You show them ads for a sale on fridges, even if they’re reading news stories on CNN.

While this works in plenty of situations, there are some ways that contextual advertising has the upper hand. And plenty of companies are taking notice. The global contextual advertising market is projected to reach over $562.1 billion by 2030.

Okay, contextual targeting isn’t exactly new. It’s been around a lot longer than behavioral texting and cookies and the whole lot. It’s simply matching the content of an ad to the content of a webpage. It worked in pre-internet days (aka the dark ages), too. If you wanted to sell wedding gowns, you’d put your ad in the wedding announcement pages of the newspaper.

Since behavioral targeting came around, it seems like contextual advertising got left by the wayside for a bit.

But in a time when users care about protecting privacy, returning to contextual advertising has become the go-to move for plenty of advertisers – or, at least employing it along with behavioral advertising. It’s a shift toward privacy-first advertising, and it’s still effective and profitable.

The Benefits of Contextual Advertising

Like I said, there are some advantages to contextual advertising that you won’t find with behavioral advertising. These are some of the biggest benefits:

Contextual Advertising is Easier and More Affordable to Execute

Contextual advertising can provide a simpler and more economical option to start advertising. This is key for businesses with fewer resources. Successful behavioral advertising relies on lots of data. This means having the tools to collect and analyze data, developing strategies for using that data, and having people to optimize that process. It’s effective, but it’s not always cost-effective for all businesses.

Although contextual advertising may not be as personalized as behavioral advertising and it has a broader reach in most cases, it still provides a relevant and valuable way to reach audiences. In many cases, it’s still plenty effective at reaching the audiences you need.

Privacy Legislation Won’t Affect Contextual Advertising Like Other Methods

Legislation in many countries classifies cookies as personal information, and has strict rules for how they can be collected. This is overall a good thing for people, but it also changes the way behavioral advertising can be done. Consent to use cookies is no longer implied, and visitors have to opt in when they land on a website. That definitely makes it harder to gather browsing behavior.

That’s where contextual advertising has a leg up. It doesn’t rely on any intimate personal details or behaviors to deliver ads. It operates on the assumption that what you’re advertising is relevant to what’s on the website, so you’re more likely to be interested in the ad.

Contextual Advertising is Sometimes More Relevant

In some cases, context can be more important than a person’s behavior. While retargeting based on past behavior is effective in many cases, it might not be the most relevant, depending on the situation.

For instance, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen ads for a particular shopping website while I’m looking at cooking recipes. Sure, I’ve visited that site and bought plenty of things, but I’m not likely to click that ad while I’m trying to figure out what to make for dinner. But, I would be likely to click on an ad showing frozen lasagna… or a food delivery service.

It Can Be More Brand Safe

It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes brands discover their advertisements in non-brand safe environments. When you’re delivering ads based on your user’s behavior alone, your ad might pop up on an adult or extremist site – and depending on your business, that might not be appropriate for your image. It might not be that extreme, either. Maybe you just don’t want to deliver an ad for car parts on Candy Crush.

When you deliver ads based on topics and keywords, it’s much easier to determine what kind of environment your ad will be in. Your ads are much less likely to appear where you don’t want them to show up.

Leveraging Contextual Advertising Effectively

As you can see, contextual ads have their own unique benefits. Perhaps the biggest one is avoiding privacy concerns that are limiting some digital advertising techniques, though the other perks are certainly important. With legislation limiting cookies, Apple’s iOS 14.5 privacy policy, and Google announcing they’re phasing out cookies, it’s time for advertisers to prepare to rely less and less on them.

So, what are we supposed to do? Call up the local paper and purchase an ad in the sports section? Luckily, contextual targeting is a lot more advanced these days. (Not that you can’t also still purchase newspaper ads)

Unlike manually dropping wedding dress ads in the newspaper’s wedding announcement pages, today’s contextual advertising is a lot more modern. Advancements in technology have improved contextual accuracy. It has also helped automate and speed up the process, making it easier and more effective from every side of the process.

On top of all that, contextual targeting works. Shifting toward this cookieless technique doesn’t have to mean reduced profitability. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can take advantage of contextual advertising, Sonobi is here to help! Our team of experts will help you create an innovative solution to solve your unique needs.

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