Have you ever noticed how a lot of blogs and websites just ‘happen’ to have display ads for products and services that are related to the content of the website? On some occasions, the site might be running advertisements for a partner company. However, more often than not, it’s an example of contextual advertising.

Contextual advertising is a great targeting technique used by advertisers when they want to ensure that their banner ads are visible to a relevant audience. In this post, we’ll discuss all you need to know about contextual advertising and how you can use it to grow your business.

What is Contextual Advertising?

Contextual advertising involves placing ad campaigns on web pages whose content is related to the advertisement. If you’re selling boxing equipment for example, you should try and get your display ads placed on websites that talk about different boxing techniques and the history of the sport. Another example: if you are selling ovens, you should try and get your display ads placed on websites that have recipes for cakes, homemade breads and cookies that need ovens to complete the job.

The idea here is that people who are interested in baking are more likely to want an oven than someone who is visiting a car remodeling site. Similarly, someone interested in boxing is more likely to pick up your boxing equipment rather than someone visiting a site about sewing. Contextual advertising exposes your ad to an audience which is more interested in your products. This results in better click-through rates and a higher level of conversions. This means that contextual advertising is a fantastic way to enhance the performance of your display advertisements.

Let’s look at a quick example. If someone loves to cook, that person is most likely to constantly browse for new recipes online.  Even though that person might have a lot of other interests, he/she is most likely to click on an ad when it’s relevant to the content he/she is looking at.

If a website for easy-one-pot-dinner recipes has an ad for easy-done-in-ten-minutes quinoa, it’s relevant and it will make the visitors more likely to click.

How Does Contextual Advertising Work?

So, how do you get your ads to appear on relevant websites? In most cases, the answer is keyword targeting. Because of this, Google AdSense is the ideal platform for contextual advertising.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Google AdSense allows you to place images, videos, and text ads on the pages of participating sites online. This enables you to put dynamic content in front of people who aren’t necessarily searching for you.

YouTube Ads, which is a part of Google’s ad system, also provides a great opportunity for contextual advertising. Imagine being able to show users a brief video ad of your new video game right before they have watched a tutorial for some other game on YouTube. Some video games offer opportunities for contextual advertising themselves.

With the right targeting in place, contextual advertising can help you to not just improve the placement of your ads, but fine-tune your copy for them, too.

In order to utilize contextual advertising correctly, you’ll create extremely specific ads for very specific keyword groups or site pages. This maximizes user relevancy, which in turn can maximize clicks, conversions, and return on investment (ROI).

How to Set Up Google AdSense Campaigns for Contextual Advertising

The good news is, it’s fairly easy to set up and run a contextual advertising campaign  since Google AdSense is one of the biggest contextual advertising opportunities around. Let’s go over how to set up a contextual advertising campaign in AdWords.

The Initial Set Up

You can create Google AdSense campaigns in Google AdWords. To get started, navigate to the Campaigns tab on the dashboard and click the blue “+” button that lets you create a new campaign.

Next, you’ll be asked to choose what type of campaign you want to run. Select “Display Network” and decide what results you want to optimize for. You can choose to focus on sales, leads, site traffic, brand awareness or product consideration.

The Display Network allows you to choose whether you want to show ads on different sites, or to show up on Gmail while people are browsing their email. For contextual advertising, it’s best to choose “Standard display campaigns.”

Targeting & Demographics

After setting up your campaign (with decisions including your bidding strategy and location targeting), you’ll decide which audiences and demographics you want your ad to be shown to.

The first section that you’ll see, will let you determine how you want to create an audience based on several key criteria. These are:

  • Affinity which allows you to target people based on long-term interests.
  • Intent which indicates that they’re in the purchasing sphere.
  • Remarketing which allows you to show ads to those who have interacted with your business in the past.

For contextual advertising, you can choose any of these options, but make sure to choose the criteria that works well with your specific ad campaigns and will be applicable on the sites you want your display ads to appear on.

The same is true for demographics. You can use demographic information to ensure that your ad is not only showing in the right place, but to the right people. For example, if you’re promoting anti-aging serums or wrinkle creams on beauty sites, you might want to filter out women under 40 who are less likely to be interested in such a product.

Content Targeting

So far, we’ve been setting up your campaign to be a success, but now it’s time to get into the nuts and bolts of contextual advertising.

Keywords allow you to show your ad on sites that contain certain keywords, like “skincare regimen”, “natural moisturizer”, or “anti-aging solution.” When choosing keywords, note that at the very bottom of the keyword entry box, there’s an option to target people interested in the keywords, or to only show the ad on content containing those keywords.  If possible, you can even identify which keywords are most beneficial to your competition and try to poach their customers.

There are a lot of topics you can choose from, like “beauty products” and “skincare.” You can choose broad categories, more specific ones, or both at once.

Depending on your product or service, choosing both broad and specific topics can be a good way to go. Broad topics will give you more exposure, while niche topics will increase your chances of connecting with the right people.

Placements allow you to choose specific websites, videos, or apps that you want your ad to be shown on, giving you the most control. This is an incredible feature, letting you choose to focus on specific sites with enormous volumes of traffic which are relevant to you and your product. You can enter multiple website URLs, or just choose a single one.

You can combine a variety of content targeting options to fully cover your basis if you desire.

Contextual Advertising: Conclusion

In the broadest term, contextual advertising’s entire concept can be summed up in one phrase: “right place, right time.” By showing ads to users who are browsing on sites that are directly relevant to your product or service, you know that your ads will be better received by visitors who are already interested in your field. To increase the effectiveness of this strategy, you should try and create very specific campaigns for specific keywords or site pages. This will increase the relevance of your advertisement, maximizing your results in the process. Contextual advertising is one of the most modern and effective types of advertising techniques today. Work towards learning it, mastering it and watch it take your business to the next frontier.