October 26, 2016
Why building relevant ads in a cookie-free world comes down to context

Why building relevant ads in a cookie-free world comes down to context

Targeted ads work. If the rise of digital has taught marketers anything, it’s that advertising must be highly relevant to achieve any kind of cut-through, but there is one proviso: consumers are willing to accept targeted ads­­ only if they do not intrude on their privacy.

According to a Millward Brown survey exploring video — the ad format of the moment — 41 percent of respondents are receptive to ads targeted on their interests, yet just 25 percent are receptive to ads that use their browsing history for basic retargeting.

It’s no coincidence that with marketers still relying on cookies, cookie synching and fingerprinting, the adoption of ad blockers continues to rise, with usage growing by 48 percent last year in the US alone.

So how can marketers take a cookie-less approach to ad targeting that delivers ultimate relevance, without compromising privacy? The answer lies in context.

What makes context crucial?

A key element of targeting that has been eclipsed by the fascination with cookie-based data and the pursuit of clicks is the connection between users and digital media. After all, users are not attracted to a page because of the ads it displays; they are drawn by content that captures their interest.

This makes the setting of an ad crucial to its success and something marketers must consider to achieve maximum relevance and minimal irritation.

Ads that blend in with their environment can be used to enhance the personal relevance of messaging without overstepping privacy boundaries; one study found 60 percent of users prefer ads targeted to what they are doing — content consumption included. This explains the increased popularity of native ads, which fully blend messaging with on-page content.

When ads do not take their surroundings into account, brands risk wasting campaign spend and damaging their reputation through inappropriate ad placements, as demonstrated earlier this year when ads supporting US presidential candidates appeared beside terrorist-related content on YouTube.

So where do current targeting methods fall short?

Although innovations in programmatic technology have brought greater efficiency and speed to digital ad targeting, automated delivery can still be hazardous. While marketers can define the audiences they want to reach through white listing, there is little transparency about the content and ads that appear alongside, resulting in reduced control over placements.

Our research indicates objectionable content — such as illegal drugs, alcohol and salacious topics — is present in one to four percent of web pages in the average DSP (demand-side platform), highlighting a significant risk: ads could be associated with content that’s damaging for the brand advertised.

What’s more, page analysis-based targeting solutions often rely on keywords — a practice that fails to allow for the way words change according to context, meaning ads can be matched to the right word but the wrong topic and sentiment… read more

From: Marketing Land