How will contextual targeting feature in your future marketing strategies?

At Wrapped we’re getting ready for the huge changes that are happening in the world of digital targeting. We’re sharing our insights, learnings and thoughts in a series of blogs about how to keep your marketing strategies functional, relevant and – most of all – ahead of the game when all of these changes fully come into force.

The importance of contextual targeting will increase significantly. There are two main ways we can target potential customers online. We do it by either profiling the user and targeting them based on past behaviours, or we target the content that users are reading and presume that those who have an interest in a given sort of content, will be aligned with our offering or that of our clients.

With 3rd party cookies now blocked by Firefox, Safari and IOS 14, targeting customers based on their past behaviours will become more of a challenge (which we will explore in more detail over the course of following blogs), but this gives rise for the increased use of contextual targeting.

So, what exactly is contextual targeting? 

It’s nothing new: in fact, it’s how marketing worked in the early days of the internet, and it’s never really gone away. Until recently, it was used less and less in favour of the behavioural marketing made possible by 3rd party cookies.

For example, contextual targeting works on the assumption that if you are reading content about a humanitarian crisis, you are likely to be someone who would give to charity. Or, if you are reading about how to become fitter, you may be interested in buying sports trainers. In other words, it’s targeting the content on the web page rather than the profile of the person reading that content.

How does it work? 

A contextual advertising system scans websites for keywords and phrases (the more advanced systems also scan meta data and alt text), before serving display adverts in placements provided on the relevant pages on the websites. 

The most well known example of this is the Google Display Network, which, to date, has provided a very cost-effective means of contextual advertising to advertisers with a smaller budget. The cost outlay to have access to this network is minimal. Many other publishing platforms have a much higher initial cost; though it will be interesting to see if this continues. 

One thing we think is very likely is that all contextual targeting platforms will become much more expensive on a CPM (per thousand views) basis, given that more advertisers will likely want to use them, therefore driving costs up.

There are some industries that lend themselves to alignment with content very well (e.g. gambling and sports news websites) and others that will require a much more considered and strategic approach when it comes to alignment with content, where the reader will be open to stop reading and engage with the advertisements.

Whatever your industry, we strongly advise that now is the time to look at your contextual targeting strategy and see what place this will take in your marketing mix to ensure you continue to drive relevant conversions when Google Chrome blocks 3rd party cookies in 2022.

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