Eli Mandelbaum
Eli Mandelbaum 11 May 2016

Contextual Marketing: Merging The Data And The Message

Right time, right place, right message, and right person — the magic combination of contextual marketing.

In today’s world, consumers have so many choices, places to go, and ads to consume every time they look at a screen that achieving this magical combination might seem virtually impossible to marketers. So, the question is: In the digital age, what does it take to succeed in contextual marketing?

Industry experts shared their thoughts on the subject during a recent roundtable hosted by PluggedIn BD. Read on to learn about three key elements of contextual marketing in the digital age.


Contextual marketing is virtually impossible without understanding consumer information and behavior. Just because you’re collecting data, doesn’t mean that your work is done. It is imperative for marketers to understand how to make sense of that data and put it to good use. One example of this is understanding how content can be used to push a consumer through the buying journey and into a sale. Without this educational component, the data becomes obsolete. 

Human Effort

Merging the people and the technology is incredibly important. With all of the data that is gathered in the ad-tech world, there is a tendency to assume that everything can be automated. As Rich Ullman of Outbrain put it, “content marketing is like running a magazine: you’re an editor and you want to know what your readers want to see and how to get it in front of them.” The key here is that someone must understand how to interpret the data (this is where education is key) and then, make sense of it — something a computer cannot do (yet).

Human effort is also essential to contextual marketing because it helps to establish an element of trust within both B2B and B2C relationships. Yes, people have become less social in the traditional sense, but they still long for human contact or at least the sense that there is a human element behind the content that they are interacting with on a daily basis. 


The notion of trust is the “bedrock” of context. And as in any aspect of life, trust is easier to lose than to gain. Content can be delivered at the right time, in the right place, etc., but it’s nothing to the consumer if they don’t trust the source. On the other side of that is the fact that successful contextual marketing helps build that trust — so it really is a continuous cycle. 

What people were comfortable sharing ten years ago is probably very different than what they share today. Consumers are opening up their lives and in a way, putting their trust in the friends, followers, and marketers who are taking interest. It is up to the marketers to decide where to draw the line in order to maintain that trust and if they can, their marketing strategy will be much more effective. 

In the words of our moderator, Judy Shapiro, “context was always the point and it always will be.”

Roundtable Participants:

engageSimply: Judy Shapiro, CEO & Founder

Outbrain: Rich Ullman, Vice President, Marketing

Nextworks: Matt Snodgrass, Vice President, Content Solutions

Sales Engine Media: Jason Myers, Director of Marketing

Nudge: Ben Young, Chief Executive Officer

ERGO Interactive: Jackie Dunning, Director of Content Strategy

BlogLovin: Rohit Vashisht, President of Activate

Original Article

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