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What is Contextual Advertising? Publisher’s Guide

Have you ever come across an advertisement on a website that seemed to be a perfect match for your interests? If so, you’ve witnessed the power of contextual advertising. Because of its novel method of attracting clients’ attention, contextual advertising is causing quite a stir in the advertising world. It’s a strategy that many advertisers are using to grow their businesses.

According to MarketsandMarkets, contextual advertising is expected to reach USD 297.68 billion by 2023. According to GumGum’s research, contextually relevant ads elicited 43% higher neural engagement and people remembered these ads 2.2x better than other ones. Given the impending demise of third-party cookies and their influence on programmatic revenue, publishers are moving their focus to contextual targeting.

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What is Contextual Advertising?

Contextual advertising is a method of displaying advertisements on websites based on the content of those pages. In other words, it’s all about reaching out to the right people at the right time and on the appropriate platform.

Contextual targeting entails engaging the audience, learning about their interests, and providing them with pertinent information. For example, a skincare product website will use algorithms to add relevant adverts. These adverts are customized to the context of the website, whether it’s a video, an essay, or an online shop selling the products.

A sunscreen advertisement in a blog piece about skincare routines is an example of contextual advertising. Ads are segmented depending on parameters such as keywords and website subjects, and contextual targeting is used on an individual basis.

How Contextual Advertising Works

Contextual advertising displays advertisements based on terms found on a web page. Contextual targeting, as opposed to behavioral targeting, which uses tracking pixels and cookies, displays relevant adverts based on the content of the website. This strategy has a favorable impact on web page viewers, resulting in improved viewability.

According to Kenneth Research, 69% of customers prefer contextually relevant content, particularly advertisements. For example, if you visit a technology-related website, you may encounter advertisements for gadgets.

Google AdSense and Contextual Advertising

Google AdSense serves adverts through the Google Display Network (GDN) or approved Google-certified ad networks. Before displaying contextual advertising, it uses bots to analyze web sites for relevant keywords and content. Furthermore, Google AdSense uses images and their associated text to improve ad targeting accuracy.

Contextual Targeting vs. Behavioral Targeting

Publishers frequently debate if behavioral or contextual targeting is more effective. Both types have distinct advantages. However, there has been a recent spike in interest in contextual adverts as an alternative to behavioral targeting for avoiding the deprecation of third-party cookies.

Differences between Contextual Targeting and Behavioural Targeting!

  • Tracking: Contextual targeting displays adverts based on terms on a web page, whereas behavioral targeting uses cookies to track online behavior.
  • Data privacy: Contextual targeting ensures easy privacy compliance, whereas behavioral targeting necessitates gaining user agreement.
  • Accuracy: Contextual targeting is less accurate than behavioral targeting, which is based on user interests.
  • Dependency: Contextual targeting is not dependent on user data, but behavioral targeting is completely dependent on user data.
  • Cost per mille (CPM): Contextual targeting is less expensive than behavioral targeting.
  • Best use case: Contextual targeting is most effective with audience segmentation and specialist web pages, whereas behavioral targeting is effective with all types of web pages.

Top 5 Advantages of Contextual Advertising

1. Combats Banner Blindness: By being relevant, contextually focused ads help counteract banner blindness.

2. Preserve User Privacy: Contextual advertising does not use user data to track online behavior.

3. Increased CTR: Contextual advertising benefits users, publishers, and marketers by offering relevant products with targeted advertisements.

4. Economical: Contextual advertising is less expensive and only requires payment for ads that are clicked on.

5. Engages Customers: Contextual advertisements enable brands to communicate with customers in an informed and relevant manner.

Disadvantages of Contextual Advertising

Despite its many benefits, contextual advertising can be disruptive to website users if it is positioned incorrectly, breaking the content flow and upsetting consumers.

How to Run Contextual Targeting in Google Ad Manager?

Publishers who use Google AdSense already use the contextual targeting capability. Contextual targeting is carried out by Google Ad Manager (GAM) publishers utilizing key-value targeting. In GAM, key values are used to identify or create custom preferences. This targeting might take place at the ad slot or page level.

How Can Contextual Ads Help Publishers?

Contextual advertising can benefit publishers by enhancing ad engagement and relevancy, resulting in increased click-through rates and a better user experience.

The Future of Contextual Advertising

Contextual advertising is here to stay, and as new technologies emerge, it will only grow more sophisticated and focused. Advertisers will be able to more efficiently target their ads with data, while consumers will receive more relevant adverts.


The ad tech market is extremely volatile, and both the demand and sell-side must continually adjust their technology requirements. Publishers must rethink their targeting tactics in order to escape the third-party cookie apocalypse. Contextual targeting is an effective approach that publishers can use, and with the majority of publishers already using Google-based ad technology, getting started should be simple.

Remember that people are the most valuable asset in the digital advertising ecosystem, therefore keeping them happy and in control of their data should be a top focus.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How do I contextualize an ad?

Advertisers create contextually relevant adverts by using data such as location, time of day, and device kind. Advertisers can display adverts that are more likely to be of interest to users by analyzing these contextual factors.

Q2. What is Contextual Strategy?

Conversion, engagement, and time on site all rise with a contextual strategy, resulting in a higher ROI. To provide the best possible experience, it combines information about the user’s actions, identification, and comments with data about the business and its consumers.

Q3. What is an example of contextual ad placement?

Ad placement that is related to the content of a web page is referred to as contextual advertising. A site about autos, for example, will serve automobile ads rather than cosmetics ads. Contextual advertising is a powerful tool for building a brand’s image and driving traffic. Several examples can be found on the blog linked above.