This month’s debunked blog recaps 4D’s webinar with MediaPost & IRIS.TV, exploring the resurgence of contextual targeting.

Last month, I joined advertising media professionals, MediaPost, and video data platform, IRIS.TV, to discuss the feeling of caution that surrounds the resurgence of contextual targeting. Since Google’s original announcement of the humble cookie downfall in 2020, the (m)adtech industry has been up in arms with how best to plan for the future that relies on little to no third-party cookies. But, we’re no stranger to change, right? Lest we forget, in 2018 we sustained the introduction of GDPR, which delivered a very clear message for our industry: the need to re-imagine advertising for better, with privacy as the number one priority.

Arguably the most talked about solution to help pave the way for this future, is contextual targeting. However, there still seems to be some hesitation surrounding the new and improved world of Contextual, and many are prudent to believe the hype. It also didn’t help that Google further delayed the cookie-demise earlier this year (again), in the bid to provide the industry with ‘more time to prepare’, giving advertisers, agencies and publishers alike, a fair logic to hit pause and see what will happen.

The thing is – and yes, I say this from a very biased perspective – but, there really is no reason to wait. The advanced technology is already here, loud and proud, delivering powerful results and driving a better advertising future for the consumer, the advertiser, the publisher – and everyone in between.

So why the hesitation?

It all lies within education and knowledge sharing. To discover the benefits and opportunities surrounding contextual targeting and insights, you can watch our full Video Podcast discussion here. What’s more, we also had some live questions asked on the day, and so I thought what better arena to answer these questions and comments, than here.

  • I agree that Contextual is a great way to reach relevant prospects. However, third-party data is alive and well, and can complement contextual targeting with data insights such as ages, incomes, and other relevant info on the consumers. How do you envision this changing when the cookie does eventually demise (or even, if, they will ever fade away)? You make a great point, and you are spot on – today, contextual targeting can compliment cookie-based advertising and enrich any targeting strategy. And, although third-party cookies and data are the foundations of marketing, the industry knows (and hates to admit) that there are fundamental flaws around third-party cookies & third-party data. Just a few things that spring to mind here, are:
  • Third-party data was used because there was no other option to personalize marketing experiences if a user hadn’t already visited a brand’s website;
  • Third-party data is tied to device IDs or cookie IDs often without explicit consent, and therefore goes against compliance laws such as GDPR and CCPA;
  • Third-party data is not necessarily attributed to the right person. According to the definition, it does not have a direct relationship to the user;
  • Third-party data is often collected & aggregated from a variety of websites, making it extremely difficult to accurately tie back all touch points and IDs to a single user;
  • There are hundreds of third-party data providers available leaving marketers confused about who they can trust;
  • Moreover, there are no industry standards for third-party data quality and verification, each provider has its own version of a standard, forcing everyone to operate in silo and leaving marketers at a loss;
  • The quality of third-party data is low and since this data typically has a 90-day recency period, there is no way to accurately capture what happens during this time span;
  • Millions upon millions of advertising dollars are spent on ads that are not relevant. So, whilst third-party cookies and data sets are very much alive and well today, it doesn’t mean to say they are fit for the future. The exciting future for contextual targeting and insights, is the ability to blend and enrich with first-party data. And this will be a game changer. More to come from us on this matter very soon!
  • Do you think Google will deprecate the cookie in 2024, or will they continue to push it back? Your guess is as good as mine! However, at some point it is going to happen, whether it’s 2024 or not. The old “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” comes to mind here. Google can continue to delay the cookie demise to suit whatever agenda is important to them, but the point still remains; targeting that relies on third-party cookies and third-party data should no longer be the center piece.
  • What are examples of targeting non-endemic categories with Contextual? Targeting a pet food campaign within a pet related context makes sense, but insights may prove that targeting other contexts, such as “Home & Garden”, or “Environment” may resonate best for a particular campaign and message. We’ve observed this very example for a recent contextual campaign and the results were impressive. Engagement rates were twice as high within the non-endemic contexts than they were within the initially targeted endemic topic.

In the same notion, targeting a travel campaign against travel related context also makes complete sense, but insights may prove that targeting “Fashion & Luxury” actually resonate best for a particular tactic- it of course is correlated with the brand, messaging, and other creative attributes of the campaign itself.

These types of endemic vs non-endemic examples will fluctuate due to both macro and micro environment factors, and therefore vary campaign by campaign, which is why the ability to contextually and deterministically analyze each campaign with a platform like 4D’s Insights is so valuable.

  • If I’m buying Audience can Contextual benefit me or is it one or the other? Absolutely! Contextual can benefit when targeting in the DSP against third-party audience data, especially with the 4D tag in place, as this will allow for 4D to create a content consumption pattern of the type of topics that users within an audience typically engage with- all the while disambiguating from the cookies & devices themselves.
  • Umberto, I loved your video examples! You used YouTube as your examples, – can the data analysis be applied to YT inventory and activated through DV360? Thank you! And, yes absolutely, 4D’s video technology works particularly well on YouTube. We can create bespoke inclusion lists that can be activated directly within a buyer’s seat on Google Ads or DV360 . What’s more, we can apply 4D across programmatic (OLV and DTV).

Want to find out more? Watch the full webinar recording here. Or, contact us via the website, or drop me a line via LinkedIn!