The building blocks to an ad-friendly privacy world starts here.

The world we live in today revolves around digital advertising, and digital advertising revolves around our browsing behavior: refinding a video link, researching new information, visiting a product landing page, the list goes on and on.

But times are changing. With heightened awareness about being followed around in a Big Brotherish way, and recent privacy updates across the board, advertisers are thinking beyond just behavioral targeting. They’re exploring feasible alternatives to third-party cookie tracking. In some instances, there’s a better way, and it’s known as contextual advertising.

Contextual advertising refers to targeted advertising that places ads on web pages based on the pages’ content and keywords that relate to the consumer using it. For example, this could be ads for athleisure apparel on a news article about new fitness regimens post-pandemic, or it could be ads for sunglasses on a travel site. Contextual advertising is another great alternative for advertisers, ad publishers, and brands who opt to expand an advertising strategy based on behavioral targeting.

It’s easy to get contextual and behavioral targeting mixed up because they have similar properties, but they’re not the same. When advertisers target behavior, they base it on the users’ actions before they reach the web page. The triumph of behavioral advertising relies on data and lots of it. This means you need tools to analyze it, strategies for using it, and people to optimize it. On the other hand, when advertisers target context, they do so based on the environment in which the audience is browsing.

Contextual advertising can offer ease and affordability while still maintaining a level of relevance. And even though it may not be as customizable and personal as behavioral advertising, it still manages to get visitors off your competitors’ website and onto yours.

With the many advantages of contextual advertising, it isn’t without issues. Targeting solely on phrases and keywords isn’t always a guaranteed solution. In fact, it also has the ability to damage your brand’s safety if the content is misplaced. For example, an ad for a hotel in California may be placed alongside a tourist site, which would make sense; however, the same ad placed alongside a news article on human trafficking could create the wrong impression.

Fortunately, there have been advances in natural language processing (NLP) and other AI-powered technologies, like Google’s Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), launching in 2022, to help today’s advertisers create brand safety and overcome bad placement. Having a better understanding of content ensures ad placement is timely and relevant.

While we can’t simply follow a user across every single site they may visit (like behavioral targeting), we can align timing, placement, and content together to deliver efficient and effective content (with contextual advertising).

Being a full-service agency, LUDWIG+ can combine the best of both worlds: creative strategy and media buying. Understanding that contextual targeting will play an important role now, and in the future, it’s more important than ever that creativity and media are in lockstep.

We recognize the importance of playing to your audience, which means knowing what creative message will work best in specific environments and audiences.