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Respecting Consumer Privacy: New Innovations in Contextual Targeting

by Michael McNulty, August 05, 2020

Key Takeaways

  • Contextual advertising is a popular form of web and mobile-based targeting that has been around for a long time.
  • As an alternative to behavioral targeting, contextual uses automated technology to scan text and images for specific keywords.
  • Contextual is one of the only forms of ad targeting that enables advertisers to respect consumer privacy by complying with GDPR and CCPA.

As marketers rethink their data and targeting strategies in the waning days of third-party cookie tracking, brands and agencies that have hinged a majority of their marketing strategies on behavioral targeting are now starting to explore viable alternatives. 

While some industry leaders are hedging their bets on more privacy-centric approaches that still offer personalization—such as current identity and digital fingerprinting solutions—many marketers are seeking more traditional and established targeting strategies involving first-party data and contextual targeting tactics that serve more relevant ads to relevant audiences at just the right time.

Proven targeting tactics that protect consumers 

Contextual advertising has been a commonly practiced form of web and mobile-based targeting for years that uses automated contextual ad technology to scan text and images for specific keywords that match advertising with web browsing behavior. 

Instead of basing ad targeting on consumer behavior, contextual focuses on the type of content the user is viewing so advertising can align with greater relevance. It’s also one of the only forms of ad targeting that enables advertisers to comply with privacy laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Both of these heavy-hitting consumer privacy regulations were enacted separately—Europe’s GDPR in 2018 and CCPA in the U.S. in 2020—with more stringent standards for how companies collect, use, and sell cookie-based data. 

Contextual pro tips for greater relevance

To help marketers embrace other forms of ad targeting in an imminently cookieless world, here are five contextual advertising tactics to drive new strategy and engage audience targets with greater relevance and scale.

On-Demand Targeting: This contextual tactic enables advertisers to maximize scale and efficiency without sacrificing performance. Advertisers can connect with targets across a vast array of topics and categories derived from technology developed to track and analyze website content. These insights are then used to bundle privacy-compliant target groups around common interests, topics, and categories readily available for instant activation.  

  • Pro Tip: Most contextual providers offer dynamic versions for a nominal fee, enabling real-time updates that give marketers the ability to build scale throughout a campaign’s lifecycle. 

Custom Keyword/Topic Targeting: This tactic provides a more granular “niche” approach to on-demand targeting that offers marketers the ability to customize keywords, topics, and phrases that define a specific target group. This can complement a refined contextual advertising strategy that optimizes quality over quantity.

  • Pro Tip: Instead of building targets of synonymous contextual keywords that will inevitably serve ads to the same sites, concentrate efforts on keywords that help extend your reach to similar audiences and maximize your presence across different sites.  

Website Targeting: The most cost-efficient method of contextual advertising because of the lack of technology required, website targeting offers multiple options to effectively reach targets on the websites that they frequent. While this type of targeting tactic is dependent on the advertiser, marketers have the ability to curate custom site lists where targets are most receptive to engage with ad content. 

  • Pro Tip: When planning to deploy website targeting tactics, think marathon, not sprint. Take the time to work through the process, utilizing every piece of relevant data you have on your target audience to help inform decisioning. 

Brand Safety: This add-on tactic can safeguard brands from being shown on certain web pages or next to content that can be detrimental to their identity.

  • Pro Tip: Deployment can be handled in a number of different ways, but in most cases it is usually handled by manually excluding keywords and topics that a brand does not want to be associated with.

Viewability: This is another add-on tactic that enables marketers to measure the impact of a campaign’s ad impressions to inform allocation of media investments. This is achieved with technology that scans the page where an advertiser’s ad is served and provides insight into whether the user has seen the impression or watched their video and for how long. 

  • Pro Tip: With multiple threshold standards ranging from 70-100%, it’s important to remember that just because an ad is viewable doesn’t mean it’s effective. This is a good supporting tactic for Private Marketplace deals. 

Preparing for a future in which context is king

With the dramatic transition away from third-party cookies just two years away and GDPR and CCPA safeguards in place that protect consumer privacy, not everyone in the ad industry is prepared to replace the behavioral targeting and measurement practices that have been essential to digital advertising for decades. 

Amobee understands marketers and the pain points they’re faced with when it comes to industry changes, especially ones that have been relied on for decades, and we’re working on multiple strategies and innovations with key industry partners.

Our extensive investments in cross-channel targeting capabilities enable our clients to branch away from a behavioral targeting perspective to tactics that focus instead on the contextual relevance of consumer interests without mapping back to a single person’s identity.

Amobee has consolidated all our contextual solutions into one minimized suite on the Amobee Advertising Platform to help marketers diversify their targeting practices with an intuitive, streamlined workflow interface.

Regardless of contextual experience, Amobee Contextual offers versatility and performance for marketers testing contextual targeting for the first time, or for those who have already leveraged its capabilities and benefits.

Our real-time intelligence engine ingests data from both digital and TV sources and powers rich market and audience insights that have provided marketers with proven and scalable contextual advertising solutions for years.

Marketers can manage all their contextual target lists regardless of the type, provider, and data contract, all in one unified dashboard. They can create customized contextual targeting groups and gain access to a generous taxonomy of dynamic, AlwaysOn tactics that surface and correlate topics, trends, audiences, brands, sentiment, events, content, and associations from across digital and TV environments for the highest-level of audience connection.

Harness the power of contextual today

Contact Amobee today at Solutions@amobee.com to harness the power of contextual targeting as we transition from a cookieless world to the future.

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