iMedia Connection: It’s time for the new contextual targeting

August 11, 2016

*Article initially published by James Malins, VP Cross Channel Solutions at Amobee in iMedia Connection

The Internet thinks I’m in-market for a flight to Hawaii. It isn’t wrong. My wife and I are planning a summer trip, and yesterday I searched for a flight on a price comparison site, alerting data providers that I’m in-market. However, as I sit here writing this, or as I shop for a new V-neck t-shirt (and if you know me, you know I wear almost exclusively V-neck t-shirts), I’m not in-market for a flight to Hawaii because — in this moment — I’m actively doing something else.

People are more complex than we treat them

Digital advertising is obsessed with data that sees every possible action and engagement of a consumer so that they can be profiled, segmented, and targeted with relevant messaging. Based on my flight search history, I am now put in an in-market segment with millions of other people. That attribute is valid and true, and part of who I am, but also results in me being segmented in a very one-dimensional way. I’m treated and messaged like everyone else in that segment, which lacks personalization. I am served ad after ad of Hawaii travel content and deals, everywhere I go and look, until I book my flight and now, suddenly, I’m out of market, and the messaging stops.

People are generally more complex than that. They multi-task, wear different hats at different times. I am a marketer, a fried chicken connoisseur, a traveler, a dog-lover, a movie enthusiast –but rarely am I more than one of them at any given time. To more effectively market to me, a media strategy must first identify, at that particular time, what hat I’m wearing, and then start engaging me.

The new contextual targeting

This is why contextual relevancy matters and is the biggest clue to which hat an individual is wearing. Context is bigger than the content on the page surrounding the message, it is everything surrounding an individual. People aren’t exclusively sitting at desks in offices or homes reading, or visiting websites any more. They are browsing their phones in traffic, at home, or at dinners, in ever-changing environments. Environments can be loud or quiet, hot or cold, raining, they can be crowded, or completely alone. People can be engaging at a typical time like 8:00 p.m. just as easily as they can be engaging at a time when a national disaster just occurred. All of these signals create the context for an individual and direct the mindset or the proverbial hat he or she is wearing.

Once context is considered, and the optimal people to engage are identified, only then should a brand activate their targeted messaging to individuals at scale.

Real-time marketing vs. right-time marketing

Several years ago, the term “right-time marketing” tried but failed to gain traction. Maybe the name, playing off of “real-time marketing” was too clever for its own good. Even today, it has seen little progression. If you take the results of a recent IPG Labs/Zefr study that says contextually relevant ads or messaging are 63 percent more effective than non-contextually relevant ads, it’s clear the industry needs to get back to optimizing for context. Brands must return to their roots and start executing strategies that strive for contextual relevance, both on the page and in the environment surrounding the individual, versus an over-reliance on targeting a specific audience segment all the time.

More and more devices are providing data points and attributes on consumers, allowing for more insight into environmental context and subsequent segmentation. The progression of using data in a contextually relevant way enables brands ability to reach those users almost anywhere they are. This strategy has helped marketers activate media around messages that consider “who” is going to receive it and “where” they are being delivered that message. The next big leap and focus for marketers should be around “when” which encompasses the consumer mindset, their environment, and all of the other factors that contribute to a person’s receptiveness to receive and engage with a brand message.

View original article here.


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Founded in 2005, Amobee is an advertising platform that understands how people consume content. Our goal is to optimize outcomes for advertisers and media companies, while providing a better consumer experience. Through our platform, we help customers further their audience development, optimize their cross channel performance across all TV, connected TV, and digital media, and drive new customer growth through detailed analytics and reporting. Amobee is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singtel, one of the largest communications technology companies in the world.

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