From a brand safety perspective, context has always been important—what brand is okay with their advertisements sitting beside negative content about crime, drugs, terrorism, or other controversial topics? In today’s “gotcha” culture, you can assume that someone will grab a screenshot of any unfortunate placement and send it out into the Twitterverse, prompting an onslaught of angry responses at worst, brand erosion at best.  

Context can be a plus for brands, not just adjacency landmines. Context can help create a connection and further engage the user with a brand’s ads. If an ad is adjacent to content that is inappropriate, it can be bad for the brand. When an ad is alongside content that is relevant, the brand benefits from the “glow” of connection to that content.


The relationship between context, consumer privacy, and GDPR

Now, with the focus turning to consumer privacy, content itself is starting to take or (or return to) center stage, as Paul Bannister from CafeMedia spoke to in AdExchanger.  It’s about meaningful and relevant content alignment, but also compliance with the latest in privacy regulations.

And watch out for the regulations. First there was GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which took effect on May 25, 2018.  More recently, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was signed into law by former California Governor Jerry Brown on September 23, 2018.   While the CCPA is not quite as expansive or comprehensive as GDPR, it is certainly a sign that lawmakers are taking active measures to protect the consumer.  (Here’s a handy guide to how the CCPA differs from GDPR regarding compliance, penalties, consumer rights, enforcement, and encryption.)  

The penalties are just getting started—and the stakes are quite high and costly. For example, Google was just hit with a major fine to the tune of $57 million for GDPR violations.  


How and why contextual will keep you out of the penalty box

We just looked at some potentially alarming legislation that has been put into place for our own protection—so how does contextual targeting fit into the mix? Can contextual targeting actually keep brands and advertisers out of harm’s way?   

One of the first things to examine is the difference between contextual targeting and behavioral targeting:

Contextual targeting: Ads are placed based upon the page’s content by targeting the words on the page and the relationship between the words on the page.  This type of targeting does not rely upon cookies and location data, which can both be considered to be private and protection worthy.

Behavioral targeting: Behavioral targeting uses cookies to determine which ads to deliver to a user based on their browsing history.  

The contextual targeting of ads allows you to hone in on exactly the content that you want, but without the trouble of crossing any privacy/cookie-enabled lines.


Why contextual targeting is so effective

Contextual targeting is about:

  • Reaching audience in the right mindset
  • Creating an emotional response
  • Resonating with an audience
  • Establishing a memorable connection

When you take a holistic approach that goes beyond just the words on the page and looks at the relationships between the words, you gain a better understanding of what the page’s content actually says.  Then something significant happens when the ad’s messaging is relevant to its environment:  the content engages and captures the user’s attention. You attain the magic trifecta “right place, right time, and right mindset” for your ad placement.    


Why not start exploring how targeting different types of content can extend your audience base, keep your brand safe, and ultimately save on your bottom line by avoiding privacy penalties? Peer39 by Sizmek can help you with all these areas, so contact an account rep to find out how. Plus, you can discover some of the biggest “contexts” you can target by looking at 2019’s Peer39 interactive calendar with all the major holidays and events from around the world. 


Amanda Bleich

Product Marketing Manager