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As consumer privacy regulations tighten, the practice of tracking user behaviours through cookies is facing unprecedented challenges. Advertisers and marketers are compelled to find new innovative ways to reach their target audiences while respecting users’ right to data privacy. 

Advertising through contextual targeting is one way to achieve that because it addresses the limitations posed by cookie-dependent strategies. It also embraces the diversity of languages and cultures, making it easier for advertisers to pitch their products or services to global audiences in their native languages. According to Statista, contextual advertising spending is expected to amount to USD 562.1 billion by 2030, signifying a shift in the advertising landscape as businesses increasingly recognise the immense potential of context-driven campaigns.

What Is The Difference Between Contextual And Behavioural Targeting?

In advertising, contextual targeting and behavioural targeting have completely different ways of delivering personalised ads. As the name implies, contextual targeting focuses on the context and it aims to match the ad’s content and messaging with relevant editorial content so it makes sure that the user’s interests are aligned with the ad’s content.

For example,

if you are a software company that sells tools for marketers to use, your ads should appear next to content that marketers might read such as articles titled “Top 10 Digital Marketing Tools” or “How to become a better marketer”. Or, if a user is reading an article about how to keep calatheas alive, with contextual targeting, they should be getting ads about pots, fertilisers, plant stores, etc.

In contrast, behavioural targeting relies on tracking and analysing a user’s past online behaviour, such as their search history, website visits, and clicks, to predict their interests and serve ads accordingly. That is why users see personalised ads that do not even match the content of the website they are currently on.

For example,

if a user was previously researching headphones, they might see an ad for electronics on a blog about make-up. Many consider it a privacy-invasive approach because it often uses browser cookies to collect and share personal data without the user’s explicit consent.

Why is Contextual Targeting Growing in Popularity?

Contextual targeting is gaining popularity due to growing concerns around user privacy and data protection. As privacy regulations (EU’s GDPR,  California’s CCPA, Brazil’s LGPD, China’s PIPL, UK’s Data Protection Act 2018, etc.) become more stringent, behavioural targeting faces increasing challenges related to consent and data sharing. 

Contextual targeting, on the other hand, does not rely on individual user data. It allows advertisers to deliver relevant ads without compromising user privacy, making it a more attractive option in today’s privacy-conscious digital advertising landscape.

How Does Contextual Targeting Work?

To target a certain context, you need to have a cluster of keywords and phrases. The keywords/phrases you collect and combine in one cluster have to be highly relevant to the topic you want to target. That way, after a website gets crawled, the system can know whether or not the textual content is relevant to your topic. 

If your keyword clusters contain ambiguous keywords, you need to find ways to disambiguate them. Moreover, if your keywords can be used in multiple contexts, you have to find a way to eliminate spam. In essence, building these clusters is similar to building complex search strings. You list the keywords and phrases you need, specify the relationships between them, and teach the system which keywords to avoid. By doing this, you are training machine learning algorithms on how to analyse and recognise the right content, ensuring contextual relevance.

For example,

if you want to advertise strawberry jam, you would like to stay away from websites that mention adverse events such as allergic reactions to strawberries or strawberry jam in particular. When collecting keywords, you have to research and find the most important as well as commonly used words or phrases that will keep your ads off articles mentioning these adverse events so your product does not get associated with creating allergies.

5 Benefits of Contextual Targeting

Besides providing ads that are relevant to the textual content of the website, contextual targeting provides:

1. Enhanced User Privacy and Data Protection

Unlike behavioural targeting, which often relies on the collection and tracking of individual user data, contextual targeting respects user privacy by not requiring the storage of personal information or online behaviour history. Advertisers target users who are interested in the textual content of the website, not specific user behaviours.

2. Reduced Risks of Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and LGPD, can result in severe financial penalties and damage to a brand’s reputation. By avoiding the need to track and store personal data, contextual targeting simplifies the process of adhering to these regulations. This not only saves businesses from potential legal troubles but also fosters trust among their user base, showcasing a commitment to ethical advertising practices.

3. Improved Ad Relevance and User Engagement

Contextual targeting stands out for its ability to deliver improved ad relevance and user engagement. Ads that align closely with the content being viewed by the user feel more native to the website and are more likely to catch their attention and resonate with their current interests.

For example,

if a user is reading an article about lifting weights, they will likely find fitness-related ads such as gym memberships, training equipment, or protein shakes relevant.

The result is a more seamless and organic advertising experience, increasing the chances of user interaction and conversion. 

As a result, advertisers can benefit from higher click-through rates, better return on investment (ROI), and an enhanced relationship with their target audience.

4. Heightened Brand Safety

Contextual targeting increases brand safety by analysing the content surrounding an ad placement. This way, advertisers can reduce the risk of their brand appearing next to harmful, offensive, or irrelevant content.

For example,

a dog grooming business might want to advertise their products such as dog shampoos and services to dog owners. Ideally, they would want to appear on pages that talk about how to groom your dog, or what dog shampoo you should use for your poodle. Given the fact that contextual targeting relies on finding websites that contain keywords and phrases relevant to the ad, the verb “grooming” is integral to this keyword cluster. However, the word “grooming” in English is also often used in the context of grooming children. The dog grooming business would not want their ads to appear on crime-related articles that talk about that topic. They would want to avoid that.

Contextual targeting allows advertisers to isolate or avoid websites with keywords or phrases that could potentially lead their ads to appear next to unsafe or undesirable content. In this particular example, the dog grooming business can simply decide that they do not want their ads to appear on any website that mentions “grooming children” or similar phrases. This level of control and precision in ad placement helps maintain a positive brand image, prevent negative associations, and ultimately protect a brand’s reputation in the digital sphere.

5. Mitigating Ad Fraud

Ad fraud has been a persistent concern in the digital advertising industry, leading to financial losses for businesses. Ad fraud can take various forms such as click fraud, impression fraud, traffic fraud, domain spoofing, cooking stuffing, pixel stuffing, geo masking, etc. These malicious practices not only waste advertisers’ budgets but also undermine the integrity of digital advertising. 

Ad fraud is a significant challenge that the industry continues to combat through improved ad verification, fraud detection tools, and industry-wide efforts to establish transparency and accountability in the digital advertising world. By focusing on the context of the website rather than the behaviour of the user, contextual targeting provides a more secure approach to digital advertising. Contextual brand safety or exclusion keyword clusters also protect advertisers during ad buys.

The Need for a Multilingual Approach to Contextual Targeting

Whether you are a provider of contextual targeting services to advertisers or you are an advertiser looking to get onboard the contextual advertising bandwagon, you know how important language is. Every language has its own intricacies, grammar rules, vocabulary, and cultural nuances that make it unique. 

If you want to target the same context in multiple markets, simply translating the vocabulary you selected in, for example, English, to other languages will not work. Direct translation is not the way to go – localisation is. Localising means adapting it to the unique linguistic and cultural nuances of your target audience. 

To successfully target the right textual content, you have to have a good understanding of each language, the way words are used in proximity to one another, and how their relationship with other words can change the context. This means that you have to:

  • do a lot of research to see what type of textual content exists on the topic you want to target in a particular language. Believe it or not, topics that you thought were universally known might not even exist in some languages.
  • gain experience in choosing the keywords and phrases that will target the right content. You might find some good keywords, but do they only appear in the context you want?
  • identify potential spam that the vocabulary you choose might generate so you can designate exclusion keywords/phrases that will prevent ads from appearing on irrelevant or harmful websites.

For contextual advertising to be effective, it is crucial to have a team of multilingual analysts who can create locally accurate keyword clusters rather than relying solely on direct translation. This approach ensures that the message resonates with the target audience and maintains contextual relevance

At A Data Pro, we can support your needs with our comprehensive multilingual services. We have dedicated teams of analysts coming from diverse corners of the world, equipped with the linguistic expertise to navigate a multitude of languages and cultures. They are not just translators, but skilled researchers who understand the nuances and context behind the data and languages they handle. 

They are experts in extrapolating relevant keywords and phrases specific to your industry, ensuring your data is not only accurately translated but also meaningful and actionable. With A Data Pro’s multilingual services, you can access a world of insights, breaking down language barriers and unlocking valuable information from every corner of the globe.

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