Glossary | C | Contextual Ad Targeting

What is contextual ad targeting?

Contextual ad targeting is a type of advertising that uses the content found on a webpage or mobile app to help an advertiser decide whether to serve an ad to the people on that page or app.  

For example, a hot dog company might use contextual advertising to programmatically buy ads on webpages and mobile apps alongside content about barbecuing and picnics.  

Advertisers add multiple parameters to their programmatic ad buy, such as topics, app categories, demographics, and/or keywords relevant to their audience. Advertisers might also specify how strong of a contextual match is required to serve an ad. Advertising platforms use those parameters to place ads on webpages and apps that fit the advertiser’s criteria.  

Contextual ad targeting is gaining new popularity as behavioral targeting—long a preferred method of ad targeting for mobile apps—becomes more difficult in the wake of privacy restrictions like App Tracking Transparency.  

For advertisers, contextual ad targeting offers several advantages:  

  • Privacy: Contextual ad targeting doesn’t rely on personal data or user profiles, alleviating privacy concerns associated with other forms of targeted advertising.  
  • Relevance: By matching ads based on content, advertisers can deliver more relevant and meaningful ads, increasing the likelihood of ad engagement and customer conversion.  
  • Brand safety: Contextual ad targeting ensures that advertisers display ads in appropriate environments, avoiding the risk of inadvertently buying ad space attached to controversial, sensitive or irrelevant content.  
  • Real-time adaptability: Contextual ad targeting can quickly adapt to the changing context of the content being consumed, delivering ads that are timely and contextually appropriate. 

Contextual ad targeting may not provide the same level of personalization or precision found with other targeting methods that rely on user data. That said, contextual ad targeting continues to improve with advancements in natural language processing, machine learning, and semantic analysis.  

Contextual ad targeting also works inside mobile apps, by seeking to understand an app’s audience based on its description, keywords, app category, and other data.  

For example, a hot dog company might use contextual ad targeting to buy ad space inside a cooking app. 

Read more about’s Leading Contextual Marketing Platform for Mobile Advertising