What is contextual advertising?
Contextual advertising is a form of ad targeting for promotional content that appears on digital media, as well as websites and browsers. The ads are chosen and served by automated systems that work to display the most relevant ads based on the identity of the user.
Why are they important?
It’s no secret that the traditional methods of advertising are not nearly as effective as they once were. The idea of throwing out a giant, untargeted net and hoping for the best is a thing of the past. Contextual advertising is a tactic designed to create digital campaigns that are tailored to the organic flow of the UX. As the bulk of online behavior is now being tracked, it would be wise to make the most of this new reality and find new ways to increase revenue.
When you are writing blog posts, the name of the game is to engage and educate readers without blatantly pushing a sales agenda. Contextual ads are a fantastic way to put relevant ad content in front of interested eyes without coming off as intrusive.
3 Ways to Use Contextual Advertising
If you want to earn some extra money with your blog, here are three ways you can tap the vast engagement potential of contextual ads.
Never Sacrifice UX
Intrusive advertising can ruin an online experience quicker than anything else. Many times, users don’t even look at poorly designed or irrelevant ads on a website. They are only interested in finding the X that gets rid of them. Research by Hubspot found that 91% of people find online ads more intrusive today than they did just a couple of years ago.
That being said, if you want to get the most out of contextual ads, they need to blend into the chosen content naturally. From a technical perspective, if your site’s color scheme presents a neutral vibe, a giant ad with super-vibrant colors will look out of place — and will certainly disrupt the UX. If I may be allowed to make a generalization, users are much more susceptible to advertising when they are not annoyed by it.
Contextual advertising is far from a one-size-fits-all solution. Each platform has its own unique landscape when it comes to display opportunities. For this reason, you cannot underestimate the importance of ad customization. Even the tiniest detail can wreak havoc on a website’s UX and ruin the effectiveness of the ad.
Adtech provider Media.net understands this concept to a tee. Their ad unit customization capabilities enable publishers to choose the ideal size and design concepts to deliver native ads that flow naturally with the UX, without making any significant changes to the site’s current layout.
This allows bloggers to maximize revenue from every bit of content, and continue to further personalize the UX for readers with A/B testing of ad copy and placement.
A good UX is one of your most powerful assets as a blogger – or any publisher for that matter. Shoddy ad positioning and non-relevance will quickly compromise it. If you’re new to the space of advertising or are unsure about the specifics of your ad, you can always get in touch with your account manager at Media.net. They are there to assist you with ad placements, ad designs and can even suggest custom monetization strategies.
Understand Visitor Intent
As in nearly all forms of online marketing, the key ingredient is simply knowing how your audience functions in relation to your platform.
When it comes to contextual advertising, a great deal of success comes down to being in the right place at the right time. The visual hierarchy of your content needs to be in perfect order. From a monetization point of view too, ads need to be placed in accordance with your visitors’ on-site surfing behavior. Further, the messaging needs to be changed based on how people interact with your website.
We are fortunate to live in a time when we can get an accurate idea as to what this encompasses. Heat mapping presents a graphical representation of data, using color coding to show user-behavior across a site. This includes patterns in relation to scanning, clicks, and scrolling. On text-heavy pages, like blog posts, scanning patterns are pretty similar across the board and tend to mimic an “F” shape.
These insights are critical in knowing where to place ads to get the most exposure, and ultimately, clicks. Site analytics tool Crazy Egg has an incredibly useful heat mapping function that provides comprehensive metrics for a deeper understanding of how users interact with the various elements on your site.
Once you have an accurate idea of the way people consume your blog content, you not only have better knowledge of where to place contextual ads but also how to craft your content to place actionable words that convert.
Be Very Selective in Choosing Advertisers
As a blogger, choosing the advertisers that are allowed to display contextual ads on your website should not be a trivial process. One of the biggest mistakes a publisher can make is welcoming any and all advertisers for the sake of revenue. In reality, doing this can be counter-productive. For example, if your blog provides travel advice, placing ads for bathroom cleaners or marketing automation software wouldn’t likely be in line with what the user is looking for.
One of your primary goals should be to make sure Google understands your website and what it’s all about. By choosing advertisers whose content is related to what your site offers, the search engines (and consequently, ad exchanges) will be in a much better position to direct interested users to your platform.
The most important thing you can do when checking out an ad network or supply-side platform (SSP) is to align the core mission of your website’s messaging with ideal outcome of each advertisement. Going back to the travel blog example, if your goal is to inspire vacations for your readers, electing to use ads for cheap flights would be a perfect pairing.
Be very, very picky here.
Contextual advertising is all about understanding the who, the why, the where, and the how.
The harsh reality is you will always be locked in a constant battle not only with other publishers but also ad blockers. The key to capitalizing on engagement potential is finding innovative ways to appeal to customers on a level that doesn’t compromise their online experience and adds intrinsic value to their lives. Good luck!
Photo via Shutterstock
With the new GDPR regulations this type of advertising has to be handled more carefully if you have EU readers (either EU citizens anywhere in the world or people accessing your site from the EU).
It all depends on the data that you have. The more data you have, the more accurate your advertising will be.