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What Is Contextual Targeting?

Learn more about contextual advertising and behavioral targeting to better leverage these strategies for your business's advertising strategy.

As a marketer or business owner, you want your marketing efforts to reach your target audience. In other words, you want to market to people who will likely be interested in the products and services that you have to offer. While there are several ways to get your marketing materials in front of the right audience, contextual targeting is a simple and cost-effective way to get ads in front of a receptive audience.

Contextual advertising involves placing ads on web pages that are relevant to the on-page content. Through contextual targeting, you can create more relevant ads and reach an audience that has demonstrated an interest in topics that are related to your products or services. This can be a great way to grow your audience, drive web traffic, boost visibility, and increase conversions.

So, if you want to create more relevant ads and expand your online presence, you may be interested in contextual targeting. In the sections below, we’ll explain what contextual targeting is and some of its key benefits. We’ll explain how you can use contextual advertising solutions to display relevant ads that align with a web page’s content.

Read the article from start to finish to get a comprehensive understanding of how contextual targeting works.

What is contextual targeting?

Contextual targeting is an advertising technique where ads are placed based on the content of a particular web page.

For example, let’s say you run an activewear company. In this case, you might use contextual targeting to place ads for gym clothes on web pages that discuss workout routines or review protein powders.

Essentially, contextual targeting allows your ads to show up on web pages that have content that’s closely related to your products or services. There are several types of contextual targeting methods that businesses can use to run ads. Contextual targeting methods include:

  • Category contextual targeting: This type of contextual targeting places ads based on general categories, such as beauty or automotive or finance. This is the most basic form of contextual targeting, and its relative broadness means it isn’t always completely accurate.
  • Keyword contextual targeting: With keyword contextual targeting, your ads are placed on web pages based on target keywords that you specify. This type of contextual targeting provides you with more flexibility—and potentially more accuracy—when placing ads.
  • Semantic contextual targeting: Semantic contextual targeting is a more advanced technique, as it typically uses machine learning to analyze the context of a given web page and determine whether your ad is a good fit.

Contextual targeting vs. behavioral targeting

Many people tend to confuse contextual targeting with behavioral targeting. While contextual and behavioral targeting are both forms of targeted advertising, there are some key differences between the two methods.

Contextual targeting focuses on the setting where users are browsing, while behavioral targeting is geared towards the users themselves. No matter what type of contextual targeting you use, this method places ads based on the content of a web page, not user behavior.

Behavioral targeting, on the other hand, takes into account user actions and behavior patterns and places ads based on those factors. For example, a behavioral targeting tool may register that a user visited multiple websites selling kitchen knives, and then use this data to place ads for kitchen knives on web pages that the user visits thereafter. With behavioral targeting, the focus is placed on aligning with the behavior patterns of a particular user rather than complementing on-page content.

What are the benefits of contextual targeting?

Contextual targeting has many benefits that are worth considering. When used effectively, contextual targeting can help you reach a wider and more relevant audience for your products and services. Below are some of the key benefits of contextual targeting.

Reach a receptive audience

One of the main benefits of contextual targeting is that it enables you to quickly reach a receptive audience.

Whether your contextual advertisements are based on categories or keywords, the ads can appear on pages where they provide users with value. And, when you serve relevant ads, you increase the likelihood that users will take action and click on them.

More affordable advertising method

While contextual targeting may not be the most sophisticated digital marketing tactics being used today, one of its more appealing points is its affordability. Setting up a contextual targeting campaign tends to be simple and more affordable than something like a behavioral marketing campaign.

Thus, contextual targeting allows businesses with a relatively small marketing budget to display relevant ads and get more bang for their buck.

Easier to implement

Contextual targeting is convenient because it doesn’t require significant amounts of time or data to set up. Instead, you can get a contextual targeting campaign going in just a few steps.

Using a platform like the Google Display Network, you can even get display ads automatically placed for you after setting up a few basic parameters.

Personalized ad experience

Creating personalized experiences and interactions is extremely important in digital marketing. In fact, according to a report by Epsilon, 80% of consumers claim that they are more likely to conduct business with a company that offers personalized experiences.

Providing personalized experiences and interactions can be a great way to engage with your audience and build relationships with customers. The best part is that adding personalization to any marketing campaign is relatively easy. While contextual targeting is one way to personalize your ads, it’s far from the only method.

Using an all-in-one marketing platform like Mailchimp, you can personalize digital ads, display ads, emails, and more in order to create more meaningful experiences. From engaging in location targeting to sending messages based on past behavior, Mailchimp’s marketing automation software enables you to make every customer interaction more personal.

Increase sales

As a business owner, driving sales is a priority. More sales means a bigger bottom line, which can enable you to scale your business, reach new audiences, and achieve even more ambitious goals. Contextual targeting is a tool that can help you increase sales by serving relevant ads to a receptive audience.

By expanding your audience through contextual targeting, you can get more people to visit your business website and increase sales. Contextual marketing in particular is effective because it allows you to provide value for users, given the fact that they’re already engaged with a topic related to your product or service. When using contextual targeting, just make sure to create an effective landing page that you redirect users to in order to maximize conversions.

Cookie-less advertising

There has been a lot of discussion about cookies in recent years. In the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has classified cookies as personal information, thus leading to a number of legal implications. Indeed, the legal scrutiny around cookies is more intense than ever before, and websites now have to get user consent before they can collect cookies.

One of the advantages that contextual targeting has over behavioral targeting is that it doesn’t have to use cookies. This makes it much easier for advertisers to stay in compliance with relevant laws when engaging in contextual marketing.

How to implement contextual targeting

Are you ready to try out contextual targeting for yourself? Luckily, setting up contextual ad campaigns is fairly easy.

Follow the steps listed below to get started with contextual targeting.

Set campaign parameters

If you’re running a contextual targeting campaign through Google Display Network, the first step is to specify what your ads are about. This means that you can select a general topic in which your ads would fit—such as “bikes” or “automobiles”—and you can select keywords for your ad. Entering a topic and/or keywords will provide Google with the parameters for your contextual marketing campaign. Using this information, it can determine the web pages where your ads would be most relevant.

Ad is matched with relevant content

Once you’ve set up the parameters for your campaign, Google can analyze web pages within the Display Network and identify opportunities for your ads. If you’ve selected both a topic and keywords that you’d like to target, you can adjust your campaign settings to make matches either more broad or more specific. A broad reach approach will place ads based on the topic you’ve chosen, while a specific reach approach will look for pages that align with both your selected keywords and topic.

Ad is placed

After you’ve created your ad and set the parameters for your campaign, Google will essentially take care of the rest. Your contextual advertisement will be placed on a website with content that’s relevant to your chosen topic and/or target keywords.

Use contextual targeting to serve relevant, effective ads

Contextual targeting can be a valuable tool for businesses that want to serve relevant ads to a wide audience. You can leverage contextual targeting to expand your audience, drive traffic to your website, and, ultimately, increase sales.

Contextual targeting can be even more effective when combined with other digital marketing tactics, such as segmentation and retargeting.

Using Mailchimp’s marketing tools and services, you can build, run, and monitor effective marketing campaigns across multiple channels, allowing you to move leads down the marketing funnel and achieve conversions. Sign up for Mailchimp today to gain access to a suite of marketing tools that can help you reach your business goals.

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