- What is contextual marketing?
- How can you implement contextual marketing in your campaigns?
- Why a Virtual Office is a critical part of contextual marketing
Q: What is contextual marketing, and why do you need it?
A: Contextual marketing is highly targeted, and it is directed toward customers based on their surroundings and their potential interests. You need contextual marketing because it’s always a smart decision to target customers who are more likely to buy your products.
Almost 80% of consumers are more comfortable seeing contextual ads compared to behavioral ads.
This is one of the most shocking contextual marketing statistics… But if you’ve browsed the web for any determinable length of time, you probably already know that it makes a lot of sense.
After all, there’s nothing more chilling than realizing that Google is collecting your data and selling it to third parties.
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That ad you just saw for a new fishing rod? Yep – you’re seeing that because you Googled “best fishing spots near me” last week.
It’s spooky, it’s unsettling, and let’s face it – it doesn’t make you want to buy the product.
This is exactly why contextual marketing is becoming so popular in the modern era – especially as government regulators continue to crack down on data collection via third-party cookies.
This in turn is putting serious pressure on governments around the world to hold big tech accountable and stop the unsolicited collection of our data.
As a consumer, this is a completely understandable concern.
But what if you’re running a business? What if you’re just trying to sell your products?
What if you’re relying on marketing campaigns built around behavioral ads?
With the decline of third-party cookies, businesses around the world are being forced to adapt and change their marketing strategies.
But hey, it’s not the end of the world.
After all, Google is constantly changing its algorithm, and adaptation is always necessary for survival in the dog-eat-dog world of online marketing.
But it gets better.
The truth is that contextual marketing can be far more effective compared to behavioral ads, and your business can actually boost ROI and conversion rates by making the switch to this incredible strategy.
In other words, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if your sales are sagging due to new data collection regulations, you still have time to pivot and recover.
But wait for a second…
What exactly is contextual marketing?
And perhaps more importantly, how can you implement this strategy into your marketing campaigns?
Let’s find out…
- What is contextual marketing?
- How can you implement contextual marketing in your campaigns?
- Why a Virtual Office is a critical part of contextual marketing
What is Contextual Marketing?
Just like real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location” with contextual marketing.
Of course, contextual marketing doesn’t necessarily need to be carried out online.
For example, it could be as simple as running an ad for a pair of running shoes in a running magazine.
The point is simple: You know that your target audience (a runner) is going to be drawn to a specific “location” (the running magazine).
While magazine ads can certainly work wonders, most people today are referring to digital marketing strategies when they talk about contextual ads.
Perhaps a more relevant example in the modern era would be running an ad for running shoes on an online running forum.
Here’s the key takeaway:
You don’t need to invade the privacy of your customers to achieve success with contextual marketing.
As DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg stated in a recent Forbes article:
“The big ad-tech companies know how to sell ads without damaging privacy, but they choose not to.”
This was way back in 2021. Since then, marketing methods that rely on capturing consumer data have come under increasing scrutiny – to the point where many believe that they will no longer be viable within a few more years.
A more recent article by Forbes was aptly titled The Slow Death of Third-Party Cookies, and it highlighted the fact that many major tech companies have announced plans to completely phase out support for third-party cookies on their web browsers.
These companies include:
Many other big tech companies will almost inevitably follow suit in the next few years. And even if these three tech titans are the only ones phasing out third-party cookies, they will still make behavioral ads obsolete.
After all, if Google (a company with a $150-billion marketing machine) doesn’t support third-party cookies, then why on Earth would you continue relying on this data for your marketing campaigns?
Forbes states that this “slow death” will make the entire digital marketing industry less effective – leading to job losses, monetization issues, and challenges in creating new websites.
But enough of that “doom and gloom” perspective!
Weinberg also stated:
“This shift back to contextual advertising need not reduce profitability. A recent poll by Digiday of publishing executives found that 45% of them saw no significant benefit from behavioral ads, and 23% said they actually caused a decline in revenue.”
As you’re about to find out, contextual marketing offers several advantages that can make this strategy much more effective than behavioral, data-based marketing.
Contextual marketing examples
To help you get a sense of how contextual marketing works in practice, here are a few examples to consider:
- You start browsing a car forum to read about the latest in auto technology. While scrolling, you see an advertisement for a new pickup truck model.
- You start reading an article on MSNBC entitled Top 10 gardening facts from Mrs. Obama. While scrolling, you see an advertisement for a new weed wacker.
- Stella Artois determines that a 2-degree rise in temperature above the monthly norm triggered a boost in sales. As a result, they started posting billboard ads for their cider that were triggered only under these conditions. As a result, they experienced a 65% increase in year-over-year sales. Yes, this happened.
While all of these examples are different, they have one thing in common:
None of them rely on capturing consumer data to sell products.
Based on these examples, you can get a sense of how contextual ads might be implemented. These ads can be targeted based on a range of factors, including:
- Location: No – we’re not talking about a customer’s physical location. To determine someone’s location, you have to capture their data (and with so many people using VPNs, this data isn’t even reliable anymore). Location in this context refers to the location of the content on the web. For example, a digital “location” could be an online forum.
- Content: Refer back to the second example. Even though the location (MSNBC) might not be associated with gardening, the content is. Contextual ads targeted based on specific types of content can be very effective.
- Weather: Yes, weather-based advertising is a real thing – and it can be effective in the digital world. For example, let’s say you’re selling winter tires. You might choose to create an ad campaign that is only shown on web pages linked with physical locations that have recently experienced major snowfall.
Contextual marketing benefits
Here are some of the most important benefits of contextual marketing:
Easy to use
If you’re the type of person who simply can’t wrap your head around third-party cookie data, then contextual marketing is for you. Although this method still requires plenty of technical knowledge, its efficacy is based on strategic planning rather than the analysis of data.
Builds trust among your customers
Many customers immediately feel a sense of distaste when they see an ad that is targeted based on their past browsing habits. If you’re the type of company that wants to build relationships based on trust instead of the sneaky collection of data, you might want to try contextual marketing.
Effective long into the future
Due to big tech’s move away from third-party cookie data, contextual marketing also has more long-term utility.
Excellent legal compliance
Collecting data without permission can get you into legal trouble. Contextual advertising eliminates this problem.
Contextual advertising can be more personalized because it’s targeted based on what customers are doing right now rather than what they’ve done in the past.
Remember, you don’t need to sacrifice profitability when you switch to contextual marketing. In many cases, these strategies have been far more lucrative compared to behavioral marketing.
If you’re someone who values privacy, then you can promote a more ethical strategy with contextual marketing. Feeling good about the way you run your business is important.
Now that you understand the definition and benefits of contextual marketing, the next question is obvious:
How do you implement contextual marketing in your campaigns?
The first step is always the same, whether you’re using direct marketing, contingent marketing, behavioral marketing, or contextual marketing:
Know your customer.
That being said, understanding your ideal customer or “target market” is even more important when you’re building a contextual marketing campaign.
Because you can’t rely on the “crutch” of user data to tell you everything you need to know about your customers. Instead, you’ll need to make an effort to learn about them and accurately predict their online activities.
Start by visualizing your ideal customer. Write down as many details as possible:
- Where do they live?
- What is their age?
- What is their income level?
- What are their priorities?
- What do they do in their spare time?
- What are their political viewpoints?
- What kind of articles do they read?
- Where do they get their information?
- Are they on any social media platforms?
There are many other factors you might want to consider when building your “sketch” of an ideal customer. Many of these questions can be answered with a little bit of investigative work and some common sense.
For example, if your target market is a snowboarder, you know that they probably live close to a mountain. This means that they probably live in a state (or a country) with a relatively cold climate.
Let’s say your target market is someone who earns minimum wage. Perhaps you’re selling a new smartwatch that is insanely cheap. Well, you can bet that many of these consumers are probably riding the bus because they can’t afford to drive.
This gives you the information you need to start building a contextual marketing campaign without having to collect data. For example, you might run weather-based ads in areas with nearby mountains that are triggered during a major snowfall.
After you’ve created a clear picture of your ideal customer, it’s time to figure out which channels you’d like to use.
Depending on your ideal customer profile, some channels might be more effective than others. For example, if your ideal customer is younger, TikTok or Instagram might be a more effective contextual marketing platform. However, an older customer might be easier to reach on Facebook.
You can also get much more creative and figure out exactly where your customers go to get information that cannot be displayed or communicated through social media. Blogs and internet forums could be solid choices in this regard.
For example, your company might sell headphones. If this is the case, you could search for the most popular internet forums for audiophiles. Next, contact the owner of the forum and inquire about running ads on their site.
Before you know it, you’ve chosen a highly targeted channel for your marketing campaign that connects you with customers who are actively searching for your headphones.
The same basic rules apply when creating ads. Make your messages clear and concise, and don’t be afraid to get creative.
You might be able to say less in your ads – simply because you’re presenting them in a highly targeted environment.
For example, an ad for headphones on an audiophile forum doesn’t need to explain the benefits of noise-canceling technology, as everyone browsing the forum already knows what that is. Instead, you can focus on the most important details that make your product unique.
You should also customize your ads whenever possible. Consider where your ads are being posted, and whether the same ads can be used effectively in different locations on the web.
For example, a slang term in the American English language might mean something completely different for British viewers – or they might not even understand it at all.
One of the most important aspects of contextual marketing is testing and tracking your results.
Although you’re not using third-party cookie data to create your ads, you can collect your data based on how your ads are performing.
For example, you might have two ads that are identical except for a few minor differences. You can then run both of those ads simultaneously and collect data to determine which one is more effective.
Using this “split-testing” technique, you can continuously refine and perfect your contextual ads.
Strategies like these are perhaps even more important in the contextual marketing world because you can’t rely on the “crutch” of third-party cookie data.
Instead, you have to create this data yourself and draw your conclusions alone.
Why a Virtual Office is a Critical Part of Contextual Marketing
A Virtual Office can be a helpful tool for optimizing your contextual marketing strategies.
This online resource allows you to register your business in a specific location, such as New York City or Los Angeles – without actually physically relocating your headquarters.
For example, your new surfboard company might choose to target people in Hawaii – even though you’re making your surfboards out of your garage in Delaware.
In this situation, it might be beneficial to register your business in Hawaii with a virtual address. This strategy means that when your customers research your business online, they’ll see that you’re local.
This makes you more trustworthy and reputable because the assumption is that if you live in Hawaii, you know all about surfing.
This is just one example of how a Virtual Office can help you carry out effective contextual marketing.
Another effective resource is our Live Receptionist.
This is a remote employee that answers your business calls during your business hours – providing a positive customer service experience while saving you from a tiresome and time-consuming job.
Let’s say that you live in Los Angeles, but you want to target customers in the United Kingdom. Perhaps you’re selling a new set of soccer cleats, and you know that the sport is more popular “over the pond.”
This is an excellent strategy – but what about the eight-hour time difference?
What happens when customers start calling you in the middle of the night? A live receptionist can answer these calls on your behalf – ensuring that your business continues to move forward like a well-oiled machine.
Alliance Virtual Offices provides both Virtual Offices and live receptionists at cost-efficient rates. If you’d like to explore your options for these effective digital resources, you can learn more by visiting our website today.
The lords of big tech have spoken:
Behavior marketing is not the way of the future.
Whether you make the switch now or later, you’re inevitably going to have to abandon the third-party cookie and your behavioral marketing strategies.
Why not get ahead of the curve and make that transition now?
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Contextual marketing comes with several important benefits – including greater profit potential.
With online resources from companies like Alliance Virtual Offices, making this transition has never been easier.
Check out the Alliance Virtual Offices website today for more information.