Glossary | C | Contextual Ad Targeting

What is contextual ad targeting?

Contextual ad targeting is a type of advertising that uses information on the host media to determine what ad content is most likely to succeed with the viewer. Advertisements are selected and served by automated systems based on the context of what the viewer is looking at.

Contextual advertisers share multiple parameters such as topics, app category, demographics, and/or keywords (for web-based ads) relevant to their audience with a digital media source. An advertiser might also specify how strong of a match is required to serve an ad. The source then pairs user data points with content that matches the advertiser’s criteria. When a match is found, an ad is served.

Contextual advertising systems were first created to make web advertising more effective, and were only later adopted by mobile apps and games. As behavioral targeting — long a preferred method of ad targeting for mobile apps — became more difficult in the wake of IFDA restrictions like App Tracking Transparency, contextual advertising gained popularity.

Contextual app targeting is another form of contextual ad targeting. App targeting uses app metadata, device information, or other parameters to target a mobile user when a device ID isn’t available.  It is otherwise similar to contextual ad targeting — it just uses different data points and matching criteria. For example, keywords (used for web advertising) would be less effective in mobile apps, which don’t typically have a lot of text — so data such as app category, app subcategory, and app version would be more useful.

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