September 26, 2022

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Contextual Targeting: How it Works and Why Should You Use it?

4 min read
contextual targeting

With the use of third-party cookies coming to a halt in the post-GDPR world, the introduction of many new rules, and the need to govern personal data and user consent, advertisers have once again turned their attention to a platform that is free from all such requirements – Contextual Targeting.

According to a recent study, contextually relevant advertising resulted in 43 percent more engagement. Additionally, people remembered contextual advertising 2.2x better than regular ads. 

Contextual ad targeting is the technique of presenting advertisements on a webpage based on its content rather than the user’s data. However, this concept is not something new in the ad tech sector. But it’s something that’s been around for a while. 

The primary reason for contextual targeting’s resurgence is that it does not rely on pixels or third-party cookies, as does behavioral advertising. Instead, it has an entirely distinct procedure, which must be known to advertisers. So, shall we get started?

Modus Operandi of Contextual Targeting

Contextual advertising involves contextual targeting using a demand-side platform (DSP), which will position your ad on websites that match your criteria.

The following are the working steps of contextual targeting:

Step 1: Select Keyword or Topic-Based Contextual Advertising Parameters

Choosing a keyword or subject is needed to help the advertising system understand the nature of the campaign and position your ads on relevant websites.

In this case, the ad publisher displays the advertising based on either the major term linked with the web page or its theme.

So, if the keywords or themes you’ve picked correspond to the major concept of a website, your ad may appear on that site.

Relevant advertisements are shown in the form of banners, carousels, and other elements. However, it is critical to recognize that this also necessitates manual judgment and implementation on the side of the publisher. 

Furthermore, they must guarantee that the advertisements they display are relevant to the target audience’s interests.

Step 2: Google Analyzes the Pages in Its Network

Once the order is placed, Google strives to match your ad with the most relevant content. In addition to other targeting, it considers content, language, page structure, link structure, and keywords.

When using the (Google Display Network) GDN, you may configure your network to have a broad or particular reach. With extensive reach, your ad will be subject-targeted.

Finally, your ads will be displayed only on pages that match keywords and at least one of your selected themes when you have used precise reach.

Step 3: Your Ad is Placed

Finally, after the above procedure is complete, the display network locates and places your ad in a place that contextually fits your ad.

Reasons to Choose Contextual Targeting

1. Easy & Affordable Method

The most important requirement for behavioral advertising is data, (particularly first-party data). This implies it also needs technologies for gathering and analyzing data, methods for utilizing it, and people to enhance the process.

However, for companies with fewer resources and fewer client data, behavioral advertising may not be worth deploying at the current moment.

Contextual ads may provide an option that is simple and inexpensive, to begin with, while also giving a level of relevance in its own right.

And, while it may not be as targeted as behavioral advertising, its reach will be greater in most circumstances.

2. Privacy is No Longer a Concern

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was the first legislation to declare cookies as personal information, establishing rigorous guidelines for how they might be collected. Since then, the regulating body has imposed significant fines for violations of user privacy.

This makes contextual advertising one of the best methods to deliver ads as it does not depend on any sensitive personal facts. This makes it safer for marketers that want to ensure that their ads are displayed on compliant pages.

3. Brand Safety & Suitability are the Top Priorities

It isn’t legal safety for which brands are concerned. There is brand safety and suitability too. It has sometimes been a major challenge to sustain behavioral advertising.

There have been many circumstances where brands have increasingly discovered their ads in non-brand safe locations. This is the price you pay for displaying advertising solely based on your users’ activity.

However, with contextual targeting, the web page where the ad appears is at the center of the campaign. You choose the themes, subtopics, and keywords. 

This reduces the likelihood of your ads accompanying a user to an area where they don’t want to see the ads, and where you don’t want them to appear.


With GDPR knocking on the door of brands and advertisers, contextual advertisements may soon be the only method for publishers to assure compliance while continuing to display targeted ads. The primary benefit of contextual targeting is that it places power in the hands of marketers or ad providers rather than the user.

As a result, they may concentrate on the visitor’s current behavior rather than what they have done in the past.

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