How to upgrade targeting with context

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Kristina: What is the outlook for contextual targeting – what exciting things are on the horizon?

Hersh Patel, Founder & CEO, Hindsight: Contextual targeting is back in focus to define the future of ad tech. One exciting development is how contextual is starting to be used in ad formats like OTT and audio. With the rise of streaming platforms, geotargeting for video ads is becoming big. Beyond that, companies are making video content shoppable so that you can buy that dress you see on TV immediately. The same goes with audio with the rise of podcasts. Hindsight is taking contextual a step further by leveraging contextual insights, not just for targeting, but to dynamically generate creative. With more focused effort on the contextual vertical, there will be more and uses cases beyond the traditional contextual that’s been around for years.

Kristina: What are the weaknesses of traditional contextual targeting?

Patel: The weaknesses of contextual targeting are not so much contextual but more generally how ad creative has been viewed to date. When you think about how ads are created and placed across the web, brands work with DSPs and DMPs to place an ad with fixed creative against the right audience and content parameters. This framework is pretty rigid and provides limited flexibility on the range of messaging in ad creative to align with user environments. Which is why adaptive creative is the future. When you combine adaptive creative with contextual intelligence, the ads become so integrated into content, they feel like editorial content.

Kristina: How does adaptive creative lead to an improved user experience when it comes to contextual?

Hersh: The main value of adaptative creative is using content signals to not only just target an ad but to dynamically create an ad to be granularly aligned with an article or a user. For example, in an article about Beyonce and another article about Madonna is it enough to serve an ad about Apple Music in both articles? Or is it more powerful to serve an ad about Beyonce and an ad about Madonna in the respective articles? That type of granularity is hard to achieve using segment or keyword targeting but can be achieved using tech enabled adaptive creative. The content alignment that adaptive creative provides also makes the ads much more editorial. Adaptive creative is what native advertising was supposed to look like, providing benefits for the user, publisher and advertiser.

Kristina: How can the next wave of contextual targeting yield improved experiences for all players in the ecosystem?

Hersh: Contextual targeting is a strategy that satisfies the values of all stakeholders — the user, the publisher and the brand. The user does not have to worry about privacy issues, the publisher can enhance their content with relevant ads and the brand can get in front of the right users in a brand safe environment. The question really is, how do you make contextual targeting as effective, if not more effective, than user targeting. The answer is to leverage adaptive and using contextual to make advertising more integrated into content. Contextual data and first-party data should also be used in tandem to play off each other. With third-party data going away, a combination of these two data sets can drive effective targeting and when you layer in adaptive creative and more engaging ad formats, there is a lot of room for performance improvement with a user-first strategy.

Kristina: Why should advertisers be looking for their contextual targeting solutions to work harder for them?

Hersh: Advertisers are not going to find a one-stop-shop for their contextual targeting needs. To be truly effective, it will be important for advertisers to leverage contextual targeting across an array of use cases. From traditional segment targeting, to location/weather targeting, and the more innovative formats like adaptive and shoppable content, brands should incorporate the different use cases of contextual to create an effective strategy. In addition, contextual by itself is not the panacea. Combining contextual targeting with first-party data and universal idea solutions will allow brands to reach and improve on the targeting capabilities they were seeing with third-party cookies. The use of third-party cookies made the ad tech industry complacent and short-sighted, depending solely on this user data. With the death of the cookie, ad tech will be able to drive forward with innovation and disruption to create a stronger ecosystem for brands, users and publishers.



Kristina Knight-1
Kristina Knight, Journalist , BA
Content Writer & Editor
Kristina Knight is a freelance writer with more than 15 years of experience writing on varied topics. Kristina’s focus for the past 10 years has been the small business, online marketing, and banking sectors, however, she keeps things interesting by writing about her experiences as an adoptive mom, parenting, and education issues. Kristina’s work has appeared with, NBC News,, DisasterNewsNetwork, and many more publications.