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How publishers can leverage contextual advertising to increase profits
January 31, 2022
The “death” of cookies, brought upon by news such as Google planning to phase out third-party cookies by the end of 2023, presents a unique opportunity for publishers to increase their profits while maintaining the trust of their readers. By leveraging innovative advertising technologies, publishers can take advantage of a rapidly growing but increasingly privacy-conscious potential customer base.
For brands, advertising is key for building trust. While the decline of cookies will go a long way towards helping customers feel safer online, publishers can adopt other methods to take further advantage. This may include the use of first-party data. Leveraging the information that consumers willingly give to publishers will be key to them effectively targeting customers and providing an enhanced user experience.
However, for those who do not have the resources necessary nor the scaling capabilities to take advantage of first-party data, there is another solution. These publishers can use contextual advertising to make sure ads reach the desired consumer without needing any personal information. This allows publishers to build and maintain trust, protect their brand and increase profits. Furthermore, when combined with first-party data, publishers can use contextual advertising to develop an even more focused and complete advertising strategy.
Context is key
Contextual advertising is an automated process that relies on artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver ads on relevant websites that target relevant audiences. This technology takes various metrics into account, such as keywords, content of images and the environment of the page, which allows the ad to be placed in the right place on the appropriate site.
Contextual AI provides a much deeper and more precise analysis of the material, and allows publishers to take advantage of opportunities that they previously may have missed. For example, the AI is able to process natural language patterns and provide a much more nuanced view of the content than using only keywords. The AI also analyzes data - such as tone, sentiment and semantic interpretation - that provides advertisers with a reliable, effective solution for an appropriate placement of their campaigns.
Applying a keyword block on certain words that may have negative connotations may lead to missed opportunities for publishers. For example, a publisher may end up passing up on ad opportunities surrounding a Formula One race simply because the word “crash” appears in an article, when in reality it is talking about the advancement of safety technology in the sport.
Contextual targeting is effective in enhancing the user experience and brand recall, and thus is a valuable and secure way for brands to connect with their customers. Therefore, it can also be hugely profitable for publishers, with research showing that they can expect some 2.5x incremental revenue from appropriate ads that are not intrusive.
Changing perceptions and growing new audiences
72% of people feel that their online presence is being monitored by advertisers and other companies, while 81% of those believe that the potential safety risks of data collection outweigh the benefits. Publishers in the ad sector have a key role to play in offsetting this growing scrutiny and changing the perception of online advertising. If these concerns are not addressed quickly and effectively, the reputation of publishers and brands will suffer, decreasing the likelihood of a customer returning to a website, and thus negatively impacting its revenue.
Contextual advertising presents an opportunity for publishers to protect their brand and create positive consumer sentiment. By serving relevant, accurate and non-intrusive advertising on their platforms, publishers are providing consumers with a much more pleasant experience, which will lead not only to a greater number of returning readers but will also help to attract new customers through positive word of mouth.
Strategy optimization, constant refinement
Due to rapid changes in the sector, publishers are obliged to reconsider and refine their outreach strategy. The pandemic has seen a great shift in the customer purchase journey, going from searching for specific brands to more generic searches to exploring new avenues. Therefore it is imperative that advertisers are aware of where their customers may be looking. Publishers can give brands visibility in the places that their target audience could be, by using appropriate natural language selection in their outreach campaigns. Contextual advertising removes negative language from targeting lists. Instead, publishers should be monitoring their best performing natural language that have been pushing greater engagement in order to provide ads based on positive content alone.
Machine learning and AI: taking it to the next level
The growing consumer hostility towards brands using their data for ads has led to the return of contextual advertising. Publishers, by exploiting AI and machine learning, can benefit from increased efficiency, improved accuracy and higher quality in their targeting. AI takes contextual targeting to the next level by mimicking human behavior through machine learning. By placing relevant ads in the right places, without compromising the safety of their audience, publishers are now much more capable of providing a great user experience.
Through the use of machine learning and AI to analyze the context and the content of the environment, contextual ads affect consumers much more positively as they are more effectively integrated into the content that customers willingly consume. Furthermore, publishers can avoid ads being placed on negative content, ensuring greater brand safety and a positive connotation with consumers.