I am sure most of us have heard the term ‘contextual advertising’. If you haven’t, you must have experienced it in a way (though you did not recognize it was contextual advertising in action). So, what really is contextual advertising? And what good does it do to a regular website visitor? These are the questions I seek to address in this post. Anyway, first things first!
Contextual advertising is just normal advertising targeting specific website users. According to a search engine journal post, contextual advertising is targeted advertising that occurs through a banner or website pop-up ad. Established contextual advertising systems scan the websites for keywords that they later use to suggest similar sites or results. To the end user, the search has been simplified by displaying similar sites or results. To the publisher or advertising company, payment is only delivered after the end user clicks the suggested site/content through what is a called the pay-per-click (PPC) advertising system.
Contextual ad systems such as Google AdSense and Google Content-Targeted advertising are Google’s flagship ad systems. These post ads in most of Google’s networks. Their algorithms are designed to scan the network for related/ similar searches considering even the language and the location among other parameters. Other ad systems include Yahoo Publisher Network and MSN Ad Centre.
Now that I am sure you understand the concepts of contextual advertising, do you remember an instance where you’ve been affected by it? Personally, I have. The most common example happens in these online shopping platforms. You simply search for a product on a certain site, get some results then get some suggestions for similar products. Amazon is popularly known for its ‘customers who bought this also bought’ phrase. This is a form of contextual advertising. They simply use your search keywords and history to suggest the other products. There are lots of other instances where contextual advertising is applied. Look carefully at most people’s browsing and you’ll appreciate that contextual advertising is here to stay. Here are some roles played by contextual advertising.
1.) Relevance/ Targeting Specific Customers:
Perhaps the most important role of contextual advertising, audience targeting is one strategy that every contextual advertising campaign should never lack. As an advertising strategist, you’d want to post ads that are relevant to your audience and also the content published by your chosen publisher. If your company deals with health equipment and/ or devices, you wouldn’t want the advert to reach some artist somewhere. Your target audience would comprise of health care providers, departments of health, hospitals and such individuals. Contextual advertising will simply help you identify these individuals. Take for example a health administrator who’s looking for health equipment on another site and bumps into some suggestions the next hour or time they go searching for the products. That’s contextual advertising at work. All their site needs to do is support contextual advertising. The user won’t have to spend more time online next time they search for the same products. Pop-up ads, banners, videos and other content will just appear if they’re related to your search criteria/ content of the site.
2.) Search Engine Marketing (SEM):
Online marketing is a diverse topic which comprises of search engine marketing. Contextual marketing is one of the major ways that search engines such as Google and Bing raise lots of income. This is how they do it. They realized that since people are likely to click or a site that has related searches/phrases/ keywords, all they have to do is incorporate the contextual ads on their search results pages as well. As such, when you search for the keyword or phrase, these contextual ads appear automatically. These may not be the exact keywords, but as long as they’re related; they’ll surely pop-up. However, there have been concerns about third-party hyperlinking which is seen as an invasion of a person’s privacy. Publishers and advertisers suffer from such techniques which turn the visitors’ keywords into links to advertisers who don’t pay the websites for their advertisement spaces. Much worse is the issue of selling third-party behavior data to other webmasters depending on their search histories, likes/ dislikes, personal habits and so on.
3.) Targeting Various Networks/ Channels:
The truth is, with traditional advertising, you could only advertise on limited platforms depending on how much money you’ve got. This was especially the case with offline campaigns of advertising. However, this is no longer the case when it comes to online campaigns. You post in as many platforms as you can. Think about the number of social media platforms already present and you’ll appreciate the dynamic of advertising. That being the case, contextual advertising is pretty much open for most of these platforms. Social media pages are full of client likes, dislikes and other personal background information that can be used to predict or suggest products. People are always suggesting products to their friends, groups, followers and so on. Contextual ad systems can place your ad in various channels at a go. Whether its social media pages, YouTube or just websites; pop-ups and banners can be displayed.
4.) Reach Platforms with Most Users:
One of the strongholds of online marketing is the number of people it can reach. The numbers are very important here because the audience is large and the conversions are likely to occur. While designing a contextual advertising platform, look for publishers and advertisers with large networks. That way, they can expose you to huge crowds of people that can later become leads and customers.
5.) Give The Publishers/ Advertisers Some Control:
Contextual advertising allows the publisher to decide on what content to be published alongside their content. It is their right to know how well the ads are doing against what they already have for targeting conversions. Likewise, advertisers ought to know how well they’re doing for every publisher. These metrics are crucial for tracking the performance of each stakeholder. As a publisher, you wouldn’t want a competitor to post their products on your site. Similarly, you’d want to prevent irrelevant content from being published alongside yours. That’s your call to make.
I highly suggest you incorporate some contextual advertisement systems if your website doesn’t have one. Think of all the above benefits you could gain from one. It might just be the thing to transform your organization from a small or a mid-level organization to being a multinational one.