September 12, 2023

Contextual Marketing

What is Contextual Marketing?

Contextual marketing is a marketing strategy where individuals are provided with targeted advertising dependent on their browsing activity, shopping habits, situation, conversation, location and other user-specific information.

For example, say someone searches for skin care product reviews and then later reads an article on choosing the best skin care product. Chances are that the next time they visit a general website, they will be presented with ads on skin care products. To the average user, it may look like a curious coincidence. In reality, the ads leverage the wealth of information that large online ad networks tap into.

Platforms and ad networks that use contextual advertising include:

  • Search engines (e.g. Google, Bing).
  • Social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn).
  • News websites (e.g. Fox News, New York Times).
  • Ecommerce stores (e.g. Amazon, Alibaba).
  • Travel companies (e.g. Expedia)

By tying marketing campaigns to user interest, businesses can:

  • Relay relevant information to a receptive audience.
  • Minimize the likelihood of mistargeted advertising.
  • Increase clickthrough rates and grow conversions.
  • Better retention through personalized content.
  • Higher return on investment (ROI).
  • Improved customer experience.

Contextual marketing is not without its challenges and drawbacks:

  • Privacy — Concerns over browser/app activity tracking by major advertising platforms. New regulations such as the GDPR are placing tighter controls on how advertisers track user information.
  • Non-standardization — Different networks implement it in different ways. Incorrect implementation increases the danger of noncompliance.
  • Incorrect targeting —  Browsing activity is not always indicative of user interest in a particular type of product. Incorrect targeting could occur leading to the serving of ads for irrelevant sites.

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