Contextual Advertising – Giving Publishers What They Need


Contextual advertising is making a comeback, which, from a publisher’s perspective, means the industry has come full circle. But what do publishers expect from their partners to improve the digital advertising dynamic for everyone? We spoke to the executives of Future, Raconteur, News UK, Jungle Creations and LGBTQ+ news site PinkNews to find out.

Contextual advertising is the oldest form of targeted advertising in the media. In the age of print magazines, that was pretty much all publishers had to rely on. But as publishers moved online and technology advanced, the landscape quickly began to change. Instead of displaying ads based on what someone was looking at, many platforms have switched to displaying ads based on browsing history, searches, links clicked, and purchases.

Since Google announced its intention to eradicate third-party cookies by 2023, it has become clear that contextual advertising will make a comeback. “From a publisher’s perspective, the industry has come full circle,” said Dave Randall, Chief Commercial Officer at Future.

This has the opportunity to improve the advertising dynamic for everyone, consumers, publishers, but also advertisers. “Contextual ads are better for publishers because they’re able to deliver relevant ads to their customers,” says Nat Poulter, co-CEO of Jungle Creations. “They’re better for advertisers because they have access to a relevant audience. And contextual ads are better for the consumer because they’re often presented with something new that interests them.”

But to reap the true benefits of contextual advertising, we must first understand what key participants really want and expect from their digital advertising partners.

The key to successful contextual advertising

There is an inherent understanding between publishers and audiences that access to content requires a trade-off. Despite this, most consumers find digital ads that exploit their personal data to be scary, intrusive and annoying, which is not good news for advertisers pouring in the money.

This was confirmed in a recent Harris poll commissioned by GumGum, which found that over three-quarters of UK consumers (79%) are more comfortable seeing online adverts relevant to the web page they appear in than advertisements based on their browsing history. .

Publishers have an important role to play in improving the perception of online advertising by addressing these concerns. According to Raconteur editor-in-chief Sarah Vizard, the heart of contextual advertising is getting the message across quickly and succinctly, and at the right time.

“Whatever the medium, the key to successful advertising is context. In the B2B arena, this is being accelerated as brands struggle to reach and influence hard-to-reach, time-poor senior business audiences,” she explains.

If publishers fail to understand this, their brands – and their revenues – will suffer. According to Vizard, “Too many publishers make the mistake of looking to cut costs when revenues are improved by serving audiences better. Cut corners and audiences won’t engage or stick with the long-term editor.

What publishers expect from digital advertising partners

Most publishers now understand the need for targeted audience-driven campaigns. To keep up with the constant changes in the industry, they must constantly update and refine their strategy.

Today, there are endless different ways to run a campaign across multiple mediums, but sometimes publishers want the ability to customize things further. “Vendors want interoperability,” says Randall of Future. “Instead of just picking things off the shelf, they want to be able to work with partners to create bespoke services based on the campaigns they run and the audiences they seek to target.”

Meanwhile, for LGBTQ+ news website PinkNews, it’s important that digital advertising partners make a more cohesive effort to target marginalized consumers.

“Digital advertising is vitally important to the media landscape, but we still see it falling behind when it comes to publications targeting marginalized groups, including the LGBTQ+ community,” says Benjamin Cohen, chief executive of PinkNews.

“We would like to see more diverse and inclusive advertising campaigns being regularly booked throughout the year, not just around Pride Months and/or similar events,” he adds. “LGBTQ+ consumers exist year-round, not just at Pride. As such, we believe advertisers should understand that LGBTQ+ people are part of many other demographics as well, and not just targeted by a single perspective on LGBTQ+ topics and markets.

As things stand, a large audience is potentially underrepresented by digital campaigns. Contextual advertising should therefore, in theory, help remedy this, by tailoring advertisements to the individual and their interests across cultures, disabilities, ethnic lines and age groups.

Contextual advertising can benefit all parties

For consumers, it appears that the return to contextual advertising is welcome. GumGum research reveals that a majority of UK consumers (65%) would be more likely to buy a product from an online advertisement that is relevant to the web page they are viewing at the time, compared to only 35% who say they’d be tempted to buy from an online ad based on content they viewed in the last 30 days.

Going forward, it’s clear that contextual advertising will play a major role in enabling publishers to monetize their content.

“Knowing our audience is a top priority for us, and serving contextual ads helps create an online experience tailored to the content the user is reading at any given time, rather than ads based on cookies and search history. ; which can sometimes feel intrusive and may not be relevant at the time the ads are running,” says Cohen.

Unlike behavioral advertising, which typically requires advertisers to know exactly who they are targeting, contextual advertising gives brands the ability to find a completely different set of consumers. Ben Walmsley, business director of publishing at News UK, praises contextual advertising for being ‘precisely imprecise’.

He says, “You find like-minded customers rather than those of the same demographic with preferences and opinions that don’t match your offering. By embracing the power of emotion in ad targeting, brands can move from demographics to metrics that more accurately represent actual consumer behavior. »

By working together to understand their audience and deliver ads in the right context, publishers and advertisers can create a unique — and more comfortable — experience for their audience that keeps them engaged and creates value on both sides.


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