Friend Not Foe: How Contextual Advertising Can Be a Consumer's New Best Friend
Global content consumption doubled in 2020, and in 2021 it has shown no signs of slowing down. As consumers, we have access to an incredible amount of articles, videos, social media pages, and all kinds of media that can publish ads alongside it. Today, you'll rarely see content without an ad — and if you're lucky, that ad will be somewhat relevant to you. However, while it may be nice to be greeted with advertising that we can relate to, more often than not it will come from brands leveraging your data to understand your interests.
In a post-GDPR world, consumers are more conscious of data privacy than ever before. The bottom line is that they don’t want organizations gaining access to their information — a claim reinforced by the fact that 96 percent of iOS 14.5 users in the U.S. are blocking ad tracking. Organizations are now beginning to cater to these consumer feelings. Apple’s new ad blocking privacy feature has clearly gone down well with customers, and all major browsers are expected to have blocked the use of third-party cookies by late 2023.
Developing a 'Cookieless' Approach
We’re in a privacy-first world and brands must cater to that if they wish to stay relevant. They need to find ways to serve responsible ads in a sustainable manner, creating non-intrusive personalization to target audiences. And it all starts with developing trust.
Building Trust the Right Way
In a world where consumers are more conscious of their privacy than ever before, organizations need to make a conscious effort to build trust with their audiences. According to Salesforce, 48 percent of U.S. consumers say misuse of their personal information has caused them to lose trust in a brand during the pandemic.
It’s clear that there's a lot of work to be done. With that said, there are steps that brands can take to help keep their audiences feeling secure, safe in the knowledge that their data is safe. Contextual targeting can play an important role, and it also presents an opportunity for brands to improve favorability by moving away from cookies and third-party data.
According to a 2020 McKinsey report, 71 percent of respondents claimed that they would stop doing business with a company if they felt their data was being compromised. Instead, by leveraging contextual targeting, brands can not only create a feeling of trust from their audiences, but they can also deliver relevant ads without needing their private information.
Doing More With Contextual
Contextual targeting improves the overall effectiveness of an ad, as well as the experience felt by audiences. By considering sentiment, sub-categories, brand suitability and brand safety, marketers can serve ads that are better tailored towards relevant audiences. Contextual targeting also improves ad recall and purchase intent through enhanced sentiment analysis. With ads being kept away from blacklisted sites and inappropriate content, brand safety is ensured completely.
Cookies help advertisers to understand behavioral data and the browsing history of the audiences they're targeting. Ads are shown based on specific audience segments that are selected by advertising teams. However, without genuine knowledge of what their customers respond to, there's a likelihood that ads won’t specifically resonate with target audiences. Behavioral advertising doesn’t account for multiple people using the same device. It's also worth noting that this tactic leads to targeting based on stereotypes, which eventually results in typecasting people into groups. Ultimately, what might seem to be accurate tracking based on browser history and cookies, ads can quite easily become mistargeted.
When ads are irrelevant, not only does the messaging fail to capture interest, but it also damages the user experience — with consumers left feeling annoyed by mistargeted messages that are now following them around the internet. Conversely, when advertisers leverage contextual targeting — which is based on the true, genuine interest of the user in real time — they can rest assured, safe in the knowledge that their campaigns are reaching relevant audiences who can relate to the ads they're being served.
A Consumer’s Best Friend
Brands should be embracing a cookie-free future, one that avoids behavioral targeting and complements the user experience with truly personalized messaging. In that regard, contextual targeting is the true winner. Without the need to rely on third-party data, and with a heightened focus on creativity, context and relevance, contextual advertising can deliver highly effective, targeted campaigns that build consumer trust and improve the user experience.
Jorge Poyatos is co-CEO at Seedtag, a leading contextual advertising company.
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