Contextual targeting is a smart form of advertising that recognizes a business’ product or service and chooses ads to place beside website content that relates to those products and services. It is not simply about matching the keywords in the text to the ad keywords. Instead, it looks at different ways to say the same thing. For example, the word ‘tired’ can also be expressed as “exhausted” or “wiped out”.

There are two ways that contextual advertising works:

The linguistic based approach-This approach categorizes language so that different words and phrases fall under the same category. The linguistic based approach is focused on syntax.

The “non-linguistic” approach – This approach does not look at the meaning of the words and phrases. Instead, it looks at character clusters or letters that are grouped together at a high frequency on specific pages.

Why Use Contextual Advertising?


Keyword analysis is not always successful at matching content to ads because many words have additional meanings. This is called polysemy, and it is hard to determine using keywords alone. Contextual advertising uses a taxonomy to classify information, which can place your ads on pages that are relevant to your business.  Matching ads to relevant content is a big part of why contextual advertising helps boost brand awareness.  In a study published by Yahoo, contextually-relevant ads drew viewer attention faster and evoked stronger emotional responses than non-relevant ads.


It is important that your ads do not appear on websites that go against your philosophy and vision. Keyword placement does not take into account the fact that some words can be used in opposing contexts. For example, the term “soft drink” may come up in a positive review of a soda or an article about obesity.


Of course, the whole point of advertising is to encourage your target market to take action that will help your business grow. Tracking your conversion rates is important to understanding what your target audience responds to and why.

Contextual advertising is superior to keyword analysis because it creates a psychological response in your target audience on the subconscious level. It matches the ads to relevant content so that the consumer experiences an cognitive and emotional connection. This piques the interest of the reader so that they are drawn in and encouraged to take action.  For awareness campaigns using online display ads, contextual targeting is an important feature that advertisers need to factor into their media planning.  To learn more about this and other ways to make display advertising more effective, contact us today.


Originally posted on iMediaConnection Blog.