Half of US-based marketers are using contextual targeting to reach and engage with audiences more effectively, according to a new study published by The Drum and GumGum.
Behavioural targeting has traditionally been the go-to method for advertisers, as it allows them to tailor content to people they believe will be receptive to it depending on demographic factors, such as age and sex, and psychographic factors based around values, attitudes and opinions. The study suggests this is now changing.
Just 25% of marketers said they now use behavioural targeting compared with the 49% that favour contextual targeting. The latter method sees brands target people based specifically on the context of a specific website and what an end user is looking at. This is appealing to brands in a climate of fake news, safety scandals and the recent arrival of GDPR regulations.
GDPR has overhauled personal data collection and limited a company’s ability to store and analyse data from consumers that underscores traditional behavioural targeting. Contextual advertising empowers brands to serve up engaging, personalised and relevant content to audiences without having to glean insights from big data. It is better suited to the real-time nature of digital content consumption.
The latest report, titled Contextual Advertising: The New Frontier, highlights the comeback of contextual methods in modern marketing campaigns. It is by no means a new targeting activity, but it has become much more complex and useful in recent years. Back in the early days of digital advertising and SEO, brands would often rely on a single keyword. This is no longer the case, as AI and other cutting-edge technology allow publishers to decipher the visual content of a specific page.
Advertisers are eager to capture and retain the interest of a consumer in today’s saturated content landscape. It has never been more important to deliver the right piece of content to the right person at the right time. Semantics analysis and computer vision are now supporting a step change in the efficiency of contextual targeting. These methods offer brands a realistic solution at a time when data collection and processing is a pressing issue for the general public.
The authors of the study polled 116 senior executives in the US and the UK for their opinions on digital marketing, and the main takeaway is that contextual advertising may soon become the de facto method for targeting, as new technology allows the contextualisation of text and images to inform content decision-making.
The report also found that 31% of brands are planning to increase investment in contextual advertising next year. That uptick is being driven by data showing it delivers better returns and results – performance increased by 73% on average when compared to behavioural targeting.
The study does stress that contextual advertising should not be used in isolation and should be supported by a balanced mix of marketing and advertising techniques and methods. However, it is perhaps the best method for delivering strong results at a time when global regulations for data are inconsistent and brand safety concerns grow.