What Brands Can Do To Get Contextual Targeting Right

Contextual Targeting is making its way back

Contextual targeting is back! It was one of the earliest forms of targeting customers online. It was simple. A customer would visit a website and would find ads that are contextually relevant to the content. For example, an article on protecting eyesight would carry an ad related to eyewear. Eventually, it got sidelined when advertisers started to target customers through behavioral targeting ads. 

Advertisers leveraged third-party cookies on the publisher’s website to understand the customer’s broader online behavior and display ads related to the websites they visited. While this worked well for both brands and publishers, customers found their privacy violated

With Google announcing the phasing out of third-party cookies by 2022, and new regulations like GDPR mandating data privacy, it’s clear that brands can no longer do behavioral targeting. They have to prepare for a cookie-less future. This has resulted in what advertisers call – contextual targeting 2.0 (a better and sophisticated version of contextual advertising). The new form of contextual targeting will be more privacy-friendly and leverage new technologies to make the ads more contextually relevant. Its sophisticated algorithms will ensure the ad’s accuracy and relevancy.

However, contextual targeting will be effective only if it’s leveraged in the right way. Let’s look at some trends that brands can follow to get contextual targeting right.

How To Get Contextual Targeting Right?

  1. Create ad sets for emerging channels

Last year, most people stayed home due to the pandemic. This increased the popularity of OTT platforms and connected TVs (CTV). Brands have started to leverage these emerging channels for advertising. According to eMarketer, the CTV ad spends will witness its highest growth in recent years. Over $11.36 billion will be spent here. Traditional linear advertising budgets will be spent on digital. As more offices plan to continue with the work-from-home form of working or a hybrid style of working in office and home, brands must focus on capturing the connected TV and OTT platforms. They must also create more video ads than images or texts as they garner more attention. 

  1. Add empathy in messaging

Behavioral targeting is sales-focused. In 2018, a woman who gave birth to a stillborn baby criticized Facebook for showing her ads for baby products. In her post, she urged these tech giants to rethink targeted ads. Contextual targeting displays ads relevant to the website content. However, with the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, brands have to be more careful about their messaging. They must avoid using an aggressive sales tone in their ads. 

Today’s customers, especially the millennials and Generation Z, prefer engaging with brands that voice their opinion and stand by their beliefs. They stay loyal to those types of brands. Hence, adding empathy to the messaging is essential to build credibility and gain new customers. 

  1. Leverage AI for better targeting

AI has made its way into almost every industry due to its accuracy in making informed decisions. Advertising is also witnessing the impact of AI. Tech giants like Google and Facebook have been harnessing the potential of AI and machine learning to make targeting more laser-sharp. 

When it comes to contextual ads, AI can help brands to analyze content that includes text, speech, and metadata, interpret its meaning and decide on ad placement. Brands can create real-time, dynamic ads that can be triggered based on events. AI can also offer brands relevant keywords to optimize the ads for conversions. 

  1. Go big on programmatic advertising

The announcement of the cookieless future and the rise of contextual targeting have made programmatic advertising popular. Programmatic advertising ensures that both the brands and the publishers can create value and engage customers. 

With AI’s help, programmatic advertising will bring transparency in the dealings between the sellers and buyers, ensure that data privacy is maintained, and ensure that the first-party cookies are leveraged for contextual targeting. 

With podcasts, audiobooks, and now Clubhouse becoming popular, brands can use programmatic advertising to place contextual audio ads on these platforms. 


The end of third-party cookies is one of the primary reasons for contextual targeting coming back into the limelight. However, that’s not the only reason. Contextual targeting can maximize the ROI on ad spend, improve brand safety, and ensure that the ads meet data privacy compliance regulations. Also, as the campaigns are measured, there is more accuracy and transparency in advertising. No wonder the contextual advertising market worldwide is poised to grow over $166.2 billion by 2025. 

To ensure that brands optimize the value provided by contextual targeting, Aroscop has created a real-time bidding platform to enable advertisers and sellers to bid in real-time. It includes features such as custom bidder to align bidding strategies with the brand’s goals and KPIs, granular reports, and customized reports to get a high-level overview of the campaign’s performance. 

2022 isn’t far. It’s time that brands prepare themselves to advertise without third-party cookies and take considered steps towards programmatic and contextual targeting to stay relevant.