- August 23, 2018

What’s Old is New Again: The Renaissance of Contextual Targeting

Rachel Gantz
Senior Vice President, Commercial

For many marketers, evolving global privacy standards – like GDPR – have cast a shadow over the future of advertising, but the reality isn’t as apocalyptic as some might suggest. As marketers attempt to navigate the latest regulations, they are met by a familiar friend in the form of contextual targeting. Based on page-level attributes, this tried-and-true genre of targeting is experiencing an accelerated renaissance as it helps marketers achieve impactful and compliant ad delivery. 

Digital advertising has always promised the ability to reach granular audiences with relevant and timely messages. However, with new regulations and a seemingly endless stream of media commentary on data privacy, some of the tools that marketers have relied upon in their growing use of programmatic are now being called into question. 

Despite these new dynamics, marketers still have a robust toolkit at their fingertips for ensuring ads are reaching the right person with the right message at the right time: contextual targeting. Although it’s often been overshadowed by its shiny sibling (audience-based advertising), contextual targeting never really disappeared. Savvy marketers have been leveraging it consistently for focused keyword targeting to ensure relevant, appropriate delivery, with the added benefit of layering in contextual categories, page-level demographic information and brand safety filters.

In a recent Q&A, Comscore’s Felix Hansen and George Panayiotou discussed how contextual targeting is helping marketers drive impactful advertising while adhering to the latest regulations. 

“Remember that ad impressions are generated by a user who decided to open a page or app related to a specific topic or interest.” Hansen noted. “Page-level data has become ‘ad hoc’ or ‘proxy’ audience interest data and allows campaigns to be delivered onto hyper-relevant inventory.”

By tapping into rich pre-bid segments based on contextual categories and audience visitor indices, marketers can still reach desired behavioral and demographic audiences, which in turn drives greater impact – whether it be a click, visit or purchase.

"For example,” notes Panayiotou, “a food brand could target pages about ‘barbecues and grilling’ that are visited frequently by adults, aged 25 – 49, to drive sales of a specific type of summer food. They could also add protection filters such as ‘safe from health issues’ to make sure the content is appropriate.”

As marketers adjust their strategies in 2018 and beyond, winning consumer hearts, minds and spend should remain a top objective. Contextual targeting can help marketers deliver the personalized, impactful campaigns they need – while remaining compliant – to ultimately achieve this top objective.

“Reliable page-level data is a seamless way to reach audiences spending time on relevant, brand-safety inventory in pre-bid.” Hansen added. “Like the example George mentioned, there are hundreds of thousands of combinations of filters and targets that can be applied to reach the right audiences in an appropriate and [relevant] setting.”

As a trusted partner for planning, transacting, and evaluating media across platforms, Comscore can help you unlock the benefits of contextual targeting. Our robust suite of pre-bid criteria enables marketers to achieve more relevant, brand-safe advertising while adhering to the latest privacy regulations. To learn more, please click here.

You can read the full Q&A with Felix Hansen and George Panayiotou, titled “The Potential of Digital Advertising Strategies amid GDPR,here.

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