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What Is Contextual Targeting, and Why Do I Need It?

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Are you looking to take your business to the next level? Whether you’re using Google PPC or not, you could be bringing more visitors to your business through well-managed contextual targeting. 

In this article, explore what exactly contextual targeting is and how it can help your business. Read on to explore how this personalized advertising is vital to having ads that convert. 


PPC stands for pay-per-click. It’s one of the most powerful tools out there. You pay based on clicks to your website. Ads are placed through Google Adwords and social networks. 

What Is Contextual Targeting?

It’s essentially a way to personalize your advertising. This allows Google PPC ads to show up on relevant sites. For example, if you’re selling scuba gear, you’d want your ad to show up on a site to do with scuba diving. Maybe if you’re willing to stretch a little further, you’d want ads on a site about boating or vacationing on the beach.

Types of Contextual Targeting

  • Category contextual targeting places ads on pages that are in pre-assigned categories.
  • Keyword contextual targeting places ads on specific pages that match specific keywords.
  • Semantic targeting is considered a more advanced form of contextual targeting, calling on artificial intelligence to determine the meaning of each page instead of just identifying matching keywords.

Examples of Contextual Targeting

  • A movie review site showing ads for steaming services
  • A cooking recipe site showing ads for food brands and cooking utensils
  • A fitness site showing ads for running shoes and spandex

Beyond ads on standard content pages, there is in-video advertising, commonly seen on YouTube videos. You might see an ad for hair clippers right before the video of how to cut your own hair.

What is Native Advertising?

Not to be confused with PPC ads, native advertising describes sponsored ads that look like the content on a website. You can click the link and read the article like you would normally. The difference is that an advertiser paid to have the article shown on that website. The article usually pitches a product or is aimed at leading the user to discover more about a brand.

How Do You Get Contextual Targeting to Work?

If you’re ready to do contextual targeting, you’ll need to first use keyword targeting. Google AdSense is the perfect platform for this form of advertising. 

It lets you place text, video, and image ads onto other sites who participate in Google AdSense. 

Contextual Keyword Targeting

When you start a PPC ad campaign in Google, you can choose targeted topics and keywords. Targeting them will make sure your ads only show up to the chosen topics.

You can even input what’s called negative keywords, phrases you specifically don’t want to target. For example, you could use “barbells” as a negative keyword, so that your ad doesn’t show up for those who were searching specifically for dumbbells. 

You can use the Google Keyword Tool to build your keyword list. When using paid advertising, aim for shorter keywords instead of long-tail. 

How to Setup Google Adsense Campaigns

First, go to Google AdWords where you can create a Google AdSense campaign. Next, go to the Campaigns tab and click the blue +. 

Then, you’ll need to choose Display Network and the results you’d like optimized. You can choose from site traffic, sales, product consideration, or leads. 

You can then choose whether you’d like to show ads on other sites or on Gmail. Contextual advertising does best with standard display campaigns. 

After this is done, you’ll then decide which demographics and audiences you’d like your ad to be shown to. 

You’ll base your audience on criteria such as:

  • Intent (purchasing sphere)
  • Affinity (target based on long-term interests)
  • Remarketing (show ads to people who have interacted with your business)

Behavioral vs. Contextual Targeting

The television industry has changed over the last couple of years due to behavioral targeting. They’re finding ways to reach a larger audience. It’s believed that this will allow them to find their audience much easier than before.

Behavioral targeting is choosing customers based on their web browsing behavior. It takes a look at the products they’ve purchased, links clicked, pages visited, and searches performed. 

Customers with similar behaviors are then grouped as a defined audience, which advertisers can target. This can lead to highly personalized ads when a shopper is more likely to buy. 

Both behavioral and contextual targeting both attempt to place ads in front of the most relevant audiences. Both are always changing to give the best results from the data they receive. 

Combining contextual with behavioral targeting can be great since they’ll combine capabilities. They’ll allow you to reach shoppers in different ways. 

Mastering Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting can be varied and precise. Like with any marketing strategy, you’ll see the best results by closely managing your campaigns and making adjustments to build on your wins and minimize your losses.

For many businesses, it’s best to seek the help of experts to ensure your PPC advertising is successful. That’s where we come in! Contact us today for a free consultation and learn exactly how our Google-certified PPC team will ensure your ad campaigns perform well and enhance your marketing..