As a marketing professional, you want to produce hard-hitting ads that grab the attention of your target audience. You want to reach the right customer at the right time. Contextual targeting will help you do just that. 

What is Contextual Targeting in Advertising?

Put shortly, it is a customized and automated form of digital advertising. It empowers advertisers to display ads that are relevant to website content rather than visitor data. This may sound counter-intuitive, as most of the talk over the last decade has been about data mining for user information. However, contextual targeting has been around for roughly the same time, and it has proved more effective.

The main reason owes to the fact that it relies on the content that is on the site rather than the personal data of the visitor to it. Privacy laws and regulations have become stricter over the last decade, which has made it harder for ad companies to target people. Contextual targeting has become more popular becomes it leans on the contexts of sites rather than insights into people.

How does Contextual Targeting Work?

The key to this technology is automation. Contextual targeting programs use a web crawler to scan website URLs. The aim here is to understand how any particular site may respond to visitor queries. When a user visits a web page, the search criteria they used are collected by the crawler and passed on to the ad server. The latter matches relevant campaigns to the topic categories and keywords.

All of this is done at the page level. The information gathered is restricted to the interactions that people have on a particular site. They are not stalked through the Internet to gather further information on and about them.

What is Keyword Contextual Targeting?

Contextual targeting platforms use keyword-contextual targeting to match keyword-targeted ads to sites. The platforms display ads according to keywords that you, as the advertiser, establish. When users search for topics that include certain keywords, they will see the kinds of ads that they are most interested in.

Which Platforms of Contextual Targeting are There?

Most dominant contextual advertising platforms

The two most dominant contextual advertising platforms have been around for some time. They are:

1. CodeFuel

The key features of this platform include:

  • Uses an intent-based search algorithm to monetize apps, extensions, and websites
  • Provides search mediation through optimized landing pages
  • Its advertisers can buy space on Facebook, Google, and Taboola
  • Displays shopping ads with high relevance to drive up conversion rates

2. Google Adsense

The key features of this platform include:

  • Conducts an automatic analysis of your website and places ads based on its layout and current content, including the presence of other Google ads
  • Automatically adapts the size of the ad to the user screen

What is the Difference Between Contextual and Behavioral Targeting

Both these types of targeting have the same goal: putting the right ad before the right user. Behavioral targeting is a technique that aims to predict future consumer action based on past consumer action. The technique will be harder to implement with the phasing out of third-party cookies in 2022.

Contextual targeting, on the other hand, places ads on the website that the buyer actually visits. It will continue to be a viable technique well into the future.

How Effective is Contextual Targeting?

A number of studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of contextual targeting.

The study carried out by a leading research firm found that contextual targeting ads generated 43% more engagement and twice the ad recall than other tools.

Examples of Contextual Advertising

Contextual targeting advertising works. Here are some examples to prove this:

1. All About Dutch Ovens

Epicurious is a website dedicated to the culinary arts, and it regularly features product reviews. One such article was meant to advise people on how to choose a Dutch oven. The piece featured an ad at the bottom with several options from well-known Dutch oven brands. The reader can buy any one of the featured ovens by following the link embedded in the ad they click on.

2. One Ad Complements the Other

This was a masterstroke. Advertisers placed swimsuit ads on a fitness website. People who visit the site to get instructions on fitness have the option of buying a swimsuit for their new lean and trim body.

3. Makeup Ads When Looking for Makeup Tutorials

Here is another gem. As a user searches for makeup tutorials on YouTube, the platform offers a range of ads for actual makeup brands. The latter enhances the user experience.

Tips for Digital Marketers

The aim of contextual targeting is to provide highly refined and precise advertising content to viewers. One of the great things about starting a business in the second decade of the 21st century is that you can reach a broad stretch of your target audience in a cost-effective way.

Contextual targeting tips for digital maketers

If you are a digital marketer, contextual targeting can help drive up sales and revenue quickly.

Here are some of the things you should do:

1. Segment and Then Segment Some More

You should create separate ad groups for each ad place. This will allow you to analyze audience data so that you can understand them and carry out the process of segmentation into smaller and smaller target groups.

2. Use Multiple Ad Groups

Do not limit yourself to one type of ad. You should use a mix of video, native, and behavioral ads. Video ads are especially powerful. If a YouTuber clicks on a video about a certain DIY job, they may receive an ad about power tools or other materials related to getting it done. This principle can be applied to any industry or market.

3. Include a Call to Action

You should always include a call to action. Do not assume that the user will know what to do after they see the ad. In most instances, the viewer will be thinking of other things when they see your ad. Telling them to “buy now” or “shop now” is a gentle hint that they need to do more than absorb the ad. If they want the product, they must take further action. When a user can readily see the next step, they are more likely to take it.

4. Build an Effective Landing Page

Each of your ads should have its own landing page. A unique landing page will engage users from the start. You should ensure that the landing page is relevant to the product. This will encourage viewers to take action.


Marketing and advertising are among the hardest things to get right in a business. Contextual targeting advertising helps simply the matter. It is a way of leveraging online and digital technology to grab the attention of potential consumers and make sales conversions.

Contextual targeting advertising is neither expensive nor difficult to implement. It can be easily integrated into your general marketing strategy. The key is to find the right platform to work with. The two most dominant platforms are reliable, and they are turned to time and again because they have delivered for their clients. No matter the vendor you choose, it is important to ensure that they can deliver the kind of results that you need to grow and expand your company.

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Sara Paul

I enjoy supporting ad hoc work at Biz-buzz as a primary research analyst. I usually write about marketing, business, finance, IT, and HR topics on social media, as I am more into marketing and business. As a podcaster and award-winning creative marketer, I still enjoy my pie on my couch, as should all right-thinking people.

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