Using Contextual Targeting in Your Banner Campaign

What is contextual targeting?

Contextual targeting is when adverts are placed in front of consumers based on the content of the webpage; the advert  is in context.  For example, if you are reading a newspaper article about the recession you may see a banner advertising savings accounts.

How valuable is contextual targeting?

Contextual advertising is a useful way of ensuring that your banners are reaching an appropriate audience.  If you are advertising in a specific vertical, for example automotive, then placing your adverts in front of an audience who are reading about cars and car related topics are likely to engage with your banners than an audience not reading about a similar topic.  It is a valuable method of targeting, but it’s value is based on what product or service you are offering.  Some products and services are very difficult to target contextually.

What are the dangers of contextual advertising?

Placing a banner advert on a webpage is not a manual process and the content on webpages are constantly changing.  Usually, a piece of software will crawl the content on a page to determine it’s context and will then serve adverts based on the reults.  For most cases this works wonderfully well, however I have seen many examples of contextual targeting going horribly wrong – which can have a hugely negative impact on your brand.  A truly horrific example of this is more often apparent next to news articles, where the words taken from the article may seem to refer to a holiday, may actually say, ‘tragedy on holiday’ in the article.  If you advertise flights, travel or holidays – you do not want to appear next to this article.  There are of course ways to avoid this – trigger words like ‘tragedy’ and ‘murder’ could be used to highlight the danger of advertising contextually on that particular page or you could avoid targeting contextually at all on news sites.