Artificial Intelligence Data & Privacy Technology

Contextual advertising is everywhere – but choosing the right adtech vendor is key

By Aaron Brooks, Journalist

June 4, 2024 | 5 min read

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As the web abandons third-party cookies, advertisers desperately need an alternative to behavioral targeting. A breakthrough experiment reveals how contextual adtech needs new targeting methods to solve today’s advertising problems.

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Moments.AI proves 36x more effective at targeting contextually relevant media

Instead of using personal data to target users, contextual advertising topically analyzes web content to match ad placements with relevant audiences.

This solves the cookie conundrum, but contextual targeting has its own issues. Traditionally, contextual advertising systems rely on the crawling and indexing of web pages – a process that usually takes over 24 hours.

Unfortunately for advertisers, most new content is news articles, which have a particularly short lifespan.

Chartbeat analysis of 27 million articles finds that “most articles reach 80% of their pageviews within 24 hours of publication, and almost all have run their course by the 48-hour mark”.

Any contextual advertising system that relies on crawling and indexing is serving ads after page performance has already peaked. By this point, page views are declining, interest is waning, and ad spend is wasted on low-visibility placements.

Clearly, advertisers need faster contextual systems to target high-visibility placements – but speed isn’t the only priority. Topical relevance is even more important, so advertisers need systems capable of targeting relevant ad placements almost as soon as pages are published.

Contextual targeting solves the recency problem

The good news for advertisers is that AI can solve contextual targeting’s recency problem. With the latest machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) technology, contextual systems don’t need to wait for new pages to be crawled and indexed.

A new breed of AI-powered systems can analyze content opportunities in real time, sourcing ad placements as they emerge. More importantly, this means advertisers can target ad placements on new pages while traffic is at its peak and users are most active.

Now, talk is cheap, and AI seems to be the answer to every problem these days – so what do the numbers say?

To answer this question, Verve Group conducted an experiment to test its contextual advertising platform, Moments.AI. An external, neutral demand-side platform (DSP) ran three identical campaigns, with contextual segments as the only variable. The head-to-head test measured targeting speed and accuracy, comparing Moments.AI against contextual platforms from two other leading adtech vendors.

Each campaign ran for 24 hours, targeting sports-related content in the UK and Germany – across some of the most time-sensitive news articles.

Verve Group’s platform delivered ad placements on new pages – on the same day as publishing – with a 96% success rate. The other two vendors only achieved 49.6% and 36% success rates for same-day impressions.

URL chart showing Verve Group vs Alternative vendor

More importantly, Moments.AI delivered relevant ad placements on sports-related URLs with an 85.9% accuracy rate vs. 4.6% and 4.3% from the other two vendors.

URL chart showing Verve Group vs Alternative vendor

The results were so surprising that the research team felt compelled to validate the accuracy of all three campaigns’ data. To make sure, each URL from the top 90% of impressions was manually inspected to confirm whether the campaign targeted sports-related content.

The inspection confirmed the results: Moments.AI is 36x more effective at targeting contextually relevant media than the other two adtech vendors.

Redefining the contextual game

Verve Group has solved contextual advertising’s recency problem by innovating new targeting methods. Moments.AI prioritizes recency and relevance to target high-visibility placements while audiences are most active.

Sticking with the theme of sports, envision a system that finds premium ad placements during the half-time break as sports fans reach for their phones – almost as soon as content is published.

Instead of chasing ad placements with diminishing returns, advertisers can be present in the most valuable placements when views, attention, engagement and actions peak.

The Moments.AI test results set new benchmarks for contextual targeting, delivering both the speed and relevance advertisers need. However, the results also raise legitimate concerns about the performance disparity between different adtech vendors.

It’s clear that advertisers need to set a higher bar for the performance of contextual campaigns – but also choose their adtech vendors carefully.

To find out more about real-time relevance in contextual advertising, get in touch with the Verve Group team here.

Artificial Intelligence Data & Privacy Technology

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Verve Group

Verve Group's privacy-first programmatic ad solutions integrate advanced demand and supply technologies to drive results. Our global reach connects advertisers and...

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