With the implementation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into effect since May 2018, the ad-buying preference is leaning back to contextual targeting - serving ads to individuals based on the context of the page the readers are looking at. Based on the recent Dmexco conference in Cologne, contextual targeting is predicted to be the trend for 2019 in replacement for audience targeting. With so much uncertainty surrounding the impact of GDPR, this type of targeting is certainly much more appealing and safer than using the data-heavy audience and behavioral targeting techniques.

How effective is contextual targeting?

While many people understand that advertising is a necessary burden that comes with viewing free content, the use of over-targeted and personalized techniques using audience and behavioral data is perceived as creepy and aggressive to the readers as they passively consume the ads. Contextual targeting seeks to go beyond that intrusive advertising mantra “reaching the right audience at the right time". Based on the dimension of context in order to deliver ads at the right place, contextual targeting makes the advertising experience more pleasant as the ads are relevant to the viewers based on what they are actively looking at.

And contextual is proven to be more efficient than audience targeting! A research conducted by Parsec shows that contextual targeting achieves higher attention at lower media costs which contributes to greater brand impact. On a CPM basis, contextual targeting costs $0.29 and targeted individuals spent an average of 4.30 second on the ads. Comparing to audience targeting cost of $1.35 and 3.84s of attention, contextual is 4.7x less expensive and generates 12% more attention.

Source: The Drum

Local, local, local - effective contextual targeting strategy for smaller businesses

Big brands have been adopting a combination of audience data, automation, and mobile devices in order to implement highly contextual marketing strategies. Such practice, however, requires a large investment on advanced marketing platforms which can handle large amount of data. For the majority of small-and-medium business, from pure digital to brick-and-mortar businesses, such investment and access to large datasets aren't likely to be available. However, smaller businesses can still get the most out of contextual targeting with simpler strategies by leveraging the context of local community.

Advertising on local news publishers is an effective and powerful contextual targeting strategy that any type of businesses can utilize. Local media offers a trusted and brand-safe context, which in turn gives a halo effect of trustworthiness to brands advertising on this medium. In Norway, research agency Respons Analyse conducted a survey among 2602 respondents in Norway in 2017 which shows that Norwegians have 2.5 times higher favorability and 3 times higher trust towards ads on local newspapers comparing to Facebook. On top of this, readers are in a more active and attentive state of mind when consuming news content, which makes it more likely for them to notice and process the ads better. As readers are actively looking for updates in their local community, ads about businesses available in their community become relevant to them. Furthermore, all major publishing houses as well as more and more local independent publishers in Norway are adopting and integrating native ad format - a less annoying and more effective ad format than the conventional display banners. This makes local news publishers a safe and effective bet for smaller businesses.

Yes, context is now king - Long live the king! In this era where Internet users are more and more concerned about their personal data and privacy, it's a safer bet to deliver relevant rather than personalized ads. Not only is contextual targeting more effective than audience and behavioral targeting, but also a lot more affordable for smaller businesses who don't have a huge budget to invest on advanced marketing platforms or access to big data. For these businesses, local community, which can be reached through local news sites, is the best contextual strategy that they can get the most out of. Fortunately enough, advertising on local news sites can now be done in a jiffy with Solo, which allows any marketers to run a campaign across country's top national and local sites in just a few minutes.