Evidence-based thinking is a management virtue, and for marketers spending in the digital channel, leveraging data has become conventional wisdom. But as is the case with most conventions, fresh ideas and technologies emerge to address new challenges and respond to market forces.
In digital advertising, contextual advertising provides a timely and impactful new option for marketers who wish to reach relevant audiences without having to rely solely on ID-based demo, geo, and behavioural data. Context provides a new powerful tool for data-driven marketing in the digital channel.
The original promise of digital advertising was its ability to reduce the ‘waste’ inherent in traditional media channels, like television and print, by delivering messages to audiences pre-qualified as relevant—primarily on the basis of their past digital behaviours. While such behavioural data has proven value, it is no longer the only basis upon which technology can be leveraged to deliver relevant audiences. Contextual advertising gives marketers the ability to achieve the same highly relevant brand experience by focusing instead on the environment the ad is being served within.
The right context can make a dramatic impact on how a message is received and resonates. Since its tech works differently than traditional interest-based advertising, context provides a welcome option for both publishers and advertisers grappling with the best ways to use data as regulatory shifts make it more difficult to use traditional data sources.
This ‘emerging option’ for finding relevant audiences comes at an opportune time. Since contextual intelligence harnesses technology to understand the nuance of the media being served, as opposed to the nuances of consumer, it is a solution that does not rely on personal data.
The sophistication of contextual intelligence is an important element of its effectiveness. When used for determining brand safety, the best contextual technology has the ability to suss out the difference between the suitability of a report featuring the horrors of war in, say, the Middle East vs a recap of the war unfolding in “Game of Thrones” between the people of Westeros and The Night King—steering clear of the former while correctly determining suitability for the latter. Using this nuance, marketers have already adopted contextual intelligence solutions for digital brand safety to great effect. But can it really work for uncovering relevant audiences, too?
Recent research published by eMarketer suggests consumers believe they are more likely to be served a relevant ad on linear television—where there are little-to-no behavioural data insights overlaid—than they are via digital video. Using technology to learn as much as possible about the nature of media content and leveraging advanced data analytics to appropriately map a brand’s keywords and relevant topics to suitable media environments is a tool with massive potential for digital marketers.
The original promise of digital still lies within data and its ability to drive smarter decision making. How and when to use ID-based data vs contextual data in the service of preserving user experience, while still delivering outcomes for marketers, should be of utmost concern to every modern digital practitioner.
Cory Fereira, head of EMEA marketing, Oracle Data Cloud