With 2019 well on its way, we look at some of the rising themes in digital marketing and online media business. In this blog series of 2019 trends, we open the year with a look on contextual targeting.

Contextual targeting in online advertising

This year will be all about context and contextual targeting of digital advertising. As publishers and advertising technology providers look to add more and more AI-driven, semantics-based capabilities into their adtech stack, we will see an increase in both display ad spend and better return for the advertisers.

The search for optimal ways to match ads with the genuine interests of consumers has been an ongoing quest, and indeed Search Ads have won that game multiple times. For publishers, however, the ability to serve ads in the right context has until now been a tough task.

In their first counter-attack to fight off search, publishers developed keyword-based targeting, native advertising formats and content partnerships with brands. Especially the last two were a natural choice, as content has traditionally been publishers’ strongest playing field. Also brands have been investing heavily in developing their own media and content offering, and native ads have provided reach and return for these efforts.

In 2019, true contextual targeting with AI-powered algorithms will be the smart choice for leading publishers. Programmatic campaigns can be served with refined placements which go beyond broad themes (e.g. ‘finance’) or legacy, keyword-based targeting. And to compliment this trend, smart advertisers can also expect to have more control over avoiding negative or false context for their campaigns.

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