media update’s Aisling McCarthy takes a look at what contextual marketing is all about.

So what is contextual marketing?

It’s an online marketing model that works by showing consumers targeted adverts based on their Internet search history. Wait, what?

Yes! Contextual marketing is aimed at showing audiences adverts for things they are actually interested in.

There are many forms of contextual marketing, all with varying degrees of sophistication. For example, a more straightforward kind of contextual marketing works by showing Internet users adverts that are directly based on terms that they have searched for.

For example, if a user searches ‘holiday in Greece’, they will be served adverts for flights, hotels and travel specials from their location to Greece.

A more sophisticated version of contextual marketing uses behavioural targeting to offer consumers appropriate advertising. For example, if a user searches for mid-sized car reviews, and then reads an article about the most fuel-efficient cars, they could be shown adverts for hybrid vehicles – as well as for biofuels.

Although it might seem like a coincidence that adverts directly related to their interests are showing up – it’s not!

According to TechTarget, “Each time the [internet] user performs a search, reads an article or clicks on an ad, a cookie stored on the computer tracks the activity, which is used to create a behavioral profile of the consumer for marketing purposes.”

Why are advertisers using contextual marketing?

In an attempt to annoy consumers less, marketers are tying adverts to their interests. They’re also hoping that by showing consumers adverts of things they are interested in, click-through and conversion rates will increase.

Basically, advertising something by putting a big ‘BUY THIS’ sign over it doesn’t always work. Marketing that looks like marketing is bound to put people off.

Contextual marketing works for one main reason: it makes sense to show consumers adverts based on their behaviour. Plus, it doesn’t feel like marketing. Why? Because the individual has already shown interest in that specific topic.

Is contextual marketing the way forward?

Juan Cisneros writes in a blog post for Delos Digital: “The secret [to content marketing] is to remove the creepy undertones.” This means that successful contextual marketing needs consumers to opt-in to the content, instead of forcing it down their throats.

“The secret is to get people to opt-in, not to sketch your way into their private lives. Trust and consent are essential in this engineered serendipity,” Cisneros says.

The goal of contextual marketing is to interact with consumers in a way they find valuable. The goal is to add more value at each touch point, instead of making them feel as if their privacy has been invaded.

As Cisneros says, “Becoming an expert in contextual marketing is key because modern tools will enable us to present solutions to the right clients, at the right time and place.”

And isn’t that the goal of all successful marketing?

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Struggling to figure out what kind of content to serve to your consumers? Brand tracking can help with that! Find out how in our article, Four ways Newsclip’s brand tracking helps you create better content.