Is contextual marketing the answer to the end of third-party cookies?

With the impending demise of third-party tracking cookies, marketing through contextual targeting is gaining a renewed importance. CMO talks to several in the industry about the opportunities and challenges in the shift to contextual marketing.

Contextual marketing brings together online and mobile marketing and uses targeted advertising based on search terms and browsing activity to attract the desired customers. It relies on developing relevant buyer personas and developing the appropriate tone of voice, content and channel to engage them. 

Semasio senior business development manager, Mikael Holcombe-Scali, told CMO contextual marketing equips marketers with the accuracy and flexibility of semantic data. “Contextual marketing is shown to users in environments that are contextually relevant and can enable marketers to reach their ideal audience, no matter how niche or broad, in environments that are highly relevant,” he noted.

Fleshing out the person in the persona

Contextual targeting uses people’s interests, location or other factors to target advertising to them. This is distinct from behavioural targeting, which can use websites visited, links clicked on, time spent on page and other metrics, often able to be collected through cookies. And data will be crucial in this context.

Retailers and marketers will have to consider strategies or software that can better leverage first-party data for contextual marketing, HubSpot A/NZ head of marketing, Kat Warboys, explained to CMO.

“While third-party data allowed you to place ads directly in front of people who matched certain user profiles, contextual marketing allows you to circulate pay per click (PPC) ads on websites that rank for similar keywords as your ad,” Warboys said.

“We’re already seeing marketers start to shift their strategy and use first-party data and multi-touch attribution to create personalised and relevant content for consumers. There’s an opportunity here to get back to basics and demonstrate our understanding of customer needs and their experience by creating that tailored, personalised approach.”

Contextual marketing, in effect, harks back to an earlier form of advertising, utilising the same principle of finding an audience based on preferences for particular content. Holcombe-Scali pointed out that since TV media buying’s inception, marketers have sought to show their advertisements on TV shows consumed by their ideal audience.

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