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Artificial Intelligence Audience Targeting Contextual Advertising

How brands can use sporting events to score new audiences


By Maria Greaves, Assistant editor - branded content

July 1, 2024 | 7 min read

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A summer of sports gives marketers the chance to win big when it comes to audience engagement. But how can contextual advertising help them stay ahead of the competition?

How can contextual advertising help brands stay ahead of the competition?

How can contextual advertising help brands stay ahead of the competition?

This summer, it’s not only the players and competitors who’ll be hoping to win big at Euro 24 and the Summer Olympics in Paris. Brands will also be jostling for position to touchdown with the massive, engaged global audiences attracted to these events. Research from Seedtag shows that there was a 71% upsurge in visits to websites publishing articles about the Olympics during the Tokyo games in 2021. It’s expected that this year’s double sporting whammy will drive even more global eyeballs and attention.

Brands must find ways to participate without distracting from the main event. But, with such a wide-open playing field, a crowded marketplace and increasing privacy regulations, how can marketers get themselves into pole position with new audiences?

Context takes gold

Amidst the noise, focusing purely on advertising content and targeting won’t make the cut. Relevancy and context is more important than ever in a crowded marketplace. Today’s audiences are quick to express their displeasure when irrelevant ads disrupt their browsing experience.

And, equally, they’re quick to engage when they’re served a relevant ad. Recent research shows that 69% of consumers are more likely to look at an ad if it’s aligned to the content that they’re reading. Contextual ads also boost their purchase interest: 44% of consumers have tried a new brand after seeing a relevant ad.

At the same time, the fact that contextual advertising leverages content information as opposed to their personal data isn’t lost on consumers who increasingly want to protect their privacy online.

Winners’ playbook: AI-driven targeting

AI has become a game changer for today’s contextual advertising, giving marketers the ability to understand the context of different content, with more precision and scale than ever before. For example, Seedtag’s contextual AI tool ‘Liz’ processes the same number of articles across 10 languages in one day, which would take a human 200 years to read.

Through network level analysis, AI driven targeting tools not only extract information from articles, but also infer relationships between them. Analyzing overlapping themes between content categories highlights areas of shared audience interests. These insights can then be turned into content graphs and relevant target audience segments, allowing marketers to widen out their targeting strategy.

For example, Seedtag’s contextual research around this year’s Olympics in Paris has unearthed a range of relevant target groups beyond sports, including ‘Event Enjoyers’, ‘Gamblers’ and ‘Family-Oriented Spectators’. Gamblers alone rack up a massive 13.8m monthly impressions as they gamify their sports experience. Meanwhile, ‘Travelers’, ‘Match Day Shoppers’, ‘Food Lovers’ and ‘Music Enthusiasts’ are among the relevant segments that could be targeted by advertisers around the Euros.

Similarly, AI analysis of global media content around the upcoming Olympics spotlights high-performing topics which aren’t purely sports-related, including innovations and sustainability, economic impact and urban transformation, and iconic venues and cultural engagement.

Timing is everything

Audience interests and preferences continually evolve as any sports event unfolds, expanding beyond the traditional sports fanbase across key moments. And, crucially, engagement will ebb and flow across those key moments, too.

Marko Johns, Seedtag UK’s managing director, says: “Marketers with their eye on true performance this summer will keep track of audience interest, the open web positioning of tournament sponsors, emerging topic segments, and trending content to devise activation strategies based on media patterns. Many will also leverage the power of Generative AI, ensuring a truly adaptable message is delivered to each appropriate audience - much like how teams set up differently, for different opposition.”

Ad creatives can also be matched across the three stages of pre-, during, and post- event targeting for big sports competitions, with audience interest tending to rise approximately 2.5 months before an event. Pre-event creatives such as in-image video ads grab more attention, to kick start conversations with target audiences. Meanwhile, during the tournament, marketers could play to win with ad content which updates according to the time of day or event line up.

Ultimately, when it comes to leveraging sports events to win new audiences, contextual advertisers can stay ahead of the field if they take on board the preparation, agility and precision required by athletes to make it to the podium.

To understand more about how contextual AI can help marketers play to win around sporting events, visit

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Artificial Intelligence Audience Targeting Contextual Advertising

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