top of page
  • Ben Portnoi

The Contextual Comeback

Contextual targeting is making a comeback and it’s great for both consumers and marketers.

What is contextual targeting?

Contextual targeting is the act of serving an ad in a relevant environment based on context. For example, looking at the weather in Barbados and being served an ad for sun cream.

It is the opposite of behavioural targeting or retargeting (where people are served ads based on their browsing history or their online actions. An example of this would be looking at the weather in Barbados, then, later in the day searching for a risotto recipe and being served an ad for sun cream – based on previous browsing behaviour.

Why did contextual advertising decline?

Broadcast ads were a traditional form of contextual advertising, that’s why TV ads for toys air around Christmas on Nickelodeon. It’s contextually relevant and therefore has cut through with the audience.

However, as digital can be measured and the data can be used to show immediate impact, it has led to a decline in contextual targeting and brand led activations and an increase in performance messaging and a significant increase in performance-based marketing.

Retargeting and behavioural targeting (via the third party cookie) has driven great results. The concept of targeting someone who is interested – works. It has enabled cheaper ad inventory to be bought as you are not encumbered by premium ad placements. Meanwhile, programmatic technology has allowed us to test thousands of strategies very quickly to ascertain the most cost-efficient way to deliver a marketing goal.

There are lots of examples of great performance from retargeting, one of many stats is that site visitors who are then retargeted are 70% more likely to come back to your property.

If retargeting is great, then why is contextual making a comeback?

Consumers are increasingly aware and concerned about their rights regarding privacy. This manifested in an increase in regulation (CCPA & GDPR). This has been amplified through IOS 14.5 and both Firefox and Safari blocking 3rd party tracking cookies. Google’s browser Chrome is the latest environment to announce the blocking of 3rd party cookies, which many think will be the nail in the coffin for many forms of retargeting activity.

A side point here is that the 3rd party cookie are the easiest way for consumers to be aware of smart targeting based on browser behaviour. Many of the replacement solutions being touted are just as unsafe, however, it is a good starting point and decent PR for the big tech firms. It’s what consumers want to hear and is a quick and direct way for the tech giants showing they are acting in an increasingly considerate fashion in regards to data privacy.

A KPMG study found that 86% of consumers have growing concerns about data privacy and 78% have concerns about the amount of personal data being collected.

Why is the contextual comeback a great thing for both consumers and advertisers?

Consumers don’t love retargeting and it is increasingly proving more challenging to deploy.

· 2/3 of marketers agree that contextual targeting is more important post 3rd part cookie

· 95% of advertisers looking to find solutions for a cookieless future

· but only 20% have implemented solutions for this yet

Furthermore, contextually relevant ads are often better value, with the average cost per click proving to be 48% lower than behavioural targeting, as improved relevance drives better engagement.

For consumers, it’s as simple as seeing great ads, with interesting creative is a better experience than performance led retargeting.

The future is bright and we are ready to go to the next level

At the Hybrid House, we drive results and embrace innovation.

The end of the 3rd party cookie marks a very exciting time for marketers. Between measurement, data collection and segmentation, it is the perfect time for the industry to press reset and to capitalise on the shape of the new landscape.

Within the contextual targeting landscape, we can now look at more than just key words to judge what the content on a page is. New tech to the market means we are increasingly able to consider videos, meta data and other page tags – in realtime when deciding which ad to serve.

On top of this we can now integrate contextual targeting into digital broadcast, which can be served via connected television and Digital Outdoor advertising.

One of the most exciting developments is the advent of dynamic creative platforms. This means that we can now create thousands of variations of assets based on a few core images and copy lines. Furthermore, we can now add in variables such as weather, time of day and many other factors to ensure that every ad served is relevant to the environment it is shown in.

The Hybrid House team have vast experience helping our clients navigate through these challenges and implementing cost-efficient and quick solutions to help tech do the hard work for you. Please reach out for more information


StackAdapt 'Take Control of Your Campaigns With Cookieless Avertising’


bottom of page