Alex Martinez
Alex Martinez 1 March 2024

Context is Important But it Isn’t Everything

As the amount of content people are consuming across various platforms continues to grow, they are being exposed to an increasing number of ads each and every day. In this crowded market, brands are competing for mere seconds of consumers’ time, particularly if you are to believe that the average person comes across 10,000 ads a day.

Whatever the actual number is, it’s safe to say that most consumers encounter hundreds of ads every day at the very least.

With consumer time at such a premium, advertisers need to be putting plenty of thought into how they can go beyond just reaching consumers to truly entice audiences.

Taking Context Up a Gear

Over the past few years, with the deprecation of third-party cookies looming, advertisers have been taking a growing interest in a shift back toward contextual targeting as means to reaching audiences with relevant ads.

Contextual has come a long way since the days of serving ads about garden furniture purely on a gardening focused website, or only targeting specific keywords, such as horticulture for example.

Technological advancements, particularly the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI), have meant that the actual content of a page can be analysed to serve hyper-relevant ads, without ever needing to know any personal information about the user.

However, while these advancements have made contextual an integral part of a successful marketing strategy, this approach alone isn’t enough for advertisers to begin to maximise the effectiveness of their advertising.

Contextual should be coupled with unique, impactful ad formats that grab the consumer’s attention in the small window of time that advertisers have to make an impression.

This is especially important at the top of the funnel to build recognition and place the brand at the front of consumers’ minds.

Advertisers can deliver this impact via skin and interactive display formats, which could feature 3D or augmented reality experiences to creatively establish the brand in the user’s mind.

Creatives should be enhanced by AI, helping to draw in contextual factors such as weather, sports scores, or geolocation into ads, increasing relevance in real-time.

Finding the Right Demo

Contextual targeting can be taken even further with the addition of advanced cookieless targeting techniques.

Cookie-free targeting can be refined with deeper audience insights, such as socio-demographic data, powering the advertiser’s ability to serve personalised messages through dynamic creative optimisation.

Socio-demographic targeting, based on content and panel surveys, can help advertisers to reach audiences with the relevance consumers are looking for, without having to rely on personal data.

Consumers can be targeted by age, gender, income, household threshold, and/or education level, meaning they are met with even deeper relevance than just real-time contextual cues.

Mixing Up the Strategy

Beyond elevating contextual advertising to higher levels, advertisers should also consider some alternative approaches away from “traditional” advertising as consumers move from the upper funnel into the mid-funnel consideration phase.

With CTV becoming the second most popular channel for consuming content behind mobile, being watched for an average of almost two hours per day, there is a huge opportunity for brands on this medium. The growth of CTV, particularly among younger audiences, means it needs to be part of every brand’s multi-channel advertising campaign.

CTV can be easily integrated within any multichannel strategy, enabling greater consistency and synergy in brand presence across platforms.

One often-overlooked marketing approach that can support CTV, and a wider multichannel strategy, is high-quality branded content. Driven by attention-grabbing imagery, videos, infographics, or games, branded content can promote specific products and/or services to consumers. And, with the right creatives, this advertorial-type content can appear seamlessly within the editorial, thus not harming the user experience.

Importantly, any audience data gained with marketing in the upper and mid-funnel can aid the driving of conversions in the lower funnel, ensuring that consumers are being met with relevance at every step of their purchasing journey.

Context Needs a Helping Hand

Contextual advertising has a massive role to play in the future of digital advertising, but it shouldn’t be the only part of an advertiser’s strategy. Through the power of AI, the approach can be levelled up to deliver a more comprehensive, relevant experience for the consumer. And it can be supported through less conventional tactics, such as sampling and branded content.

Advertisers exploring all these avenues will put themselves in the best possible position to succeed in the crowded, and privacy-driven, market that exists today.

There’s no doubt that context is king, but every monarch has their courtiers.

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