Study: Contextual Targeting More Cost Efficient than Behavioural; GumGum Most Accurate Contextual Vendor

GumGum today published a case study indicating that digital advertising campaigns that employ contextual targeting are more cost efficient than behaviourally targeted campaigns. The study, sponsored in partnership with Dentsu Aegis Network and conducted by an independent third-party researcher, also found that overall GumGum VerityTM placed ads in relevant contexts with nearly twice the accuracy of the other leading contextual intelligence solutions tested. 

Amidst a wave of data privacy regulation and third party cookie phase-outs that have digital advertisers scrambling for solutions to maintain campaign efficiency and scale, contextual targeting has frequently been touted as a data privacy-friendly alternative to behavioural targeting––but until now the viability of that claim has gone largely untested. The findings published in Understanding Contextual Relevance and Efficiency: A Comparison of Contextual Intelligence Vendors and Behavioural Targeting seem to give credence to the promise of contextual. That bodes well for the future of digital advertising,

“Machine learning-backed contextual targeting has been a central tenet of our offering since the get-go, so to some degree, from our perspective, this study states the obvious, but it is fabulous to finally see a head-to-head contextual-behavioural match up and get hard data behind contextual targeting’s value,” said GumGum CEO Phil Schraeder. “There are plenty of doubting Thomas’ about contextual as an answer to the cookie’s death and this ought to give them some faith.”

While the study was principally designed to better understand the overall effectiveness of contextual intelligence in comparison to behavioural, it also sought to benchmark four of the top contextual intelligence vendors in the industry. For the study, Dentsu Aegis Network ran live campaigns for four of its major brand clients, including Sephora, across four contextual intelligence vendors, as well as by leveraging behavioural targeting. The campaigns utilised the same brand safe inventory. The campaign served 1M impressions, which were measured for cost efficiency and content relevance.

“In a world with diminishing access to audience targeting, as responsible partners to our clients, we need the most robust understanding of potential best practices and tools available for success.” explained Brian Monahan, global client president and head of US ventures for Dentsu Aegis Network. “Beyond value-testing contextual, we also needed to gauge the effectiveness of the numerous emergent contextual intelligence offerings. This study gave us both of those things––and the results are compelling.”

Indeed, the study found that, taking into account CPMs, the contextual Intelligence vendor in-demo impressions (eCPM) cost 29% less than behaviourally targeted in-demo impressions, with GumGum Verity™ impressions costing somewhat less (36%)––and overall that for CPC and vCPM the costs of using contextual targeting were lower than behavioural (48% and 41% respectively).

The findings regarding contextual intelligence vendor accuracy show that GumGum Verity™ served contextually relevant ads 71% of the time, while the other vendors only achieved 47%-25%. Overall, GumGum outperformed the other contextual Intelligence vendors by 1.7X.

For the study, Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings Reporting, Xandr, GumGum, MOAT provided the cost efficiency measurement of impressions. Appen, a third party vendor specialising in human annotation of urls, measured content relevance.

To read the complete case study, please visit here.


GumGum is a global technology and media company specialising in contextual intelligence. For over a decade, we have applied our proven machine learning expertise to extract value from digital content for the advertising and sports industries. Our pr…
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