How Contextual AI Impacts Campaign Performance

In association with Seedtag.

In this exclusive article penned following his recent appointment as global head of performance at Seedtag, Kenneth López Triquell discussed the effect of leveraging contextual data on campaign performance.

Digital marketing is complicated. Finding the most effective way to establish relationships with consumers in a world dominated by ads is no mean feat. Mobile ads, banners integrated in videos - the options available to advertisers are seemingly endless. 

But ad placement isn’t the only problem brand marketers must contend with. Consumers are increasingly concerned about their privacy being infringed upon - and rightfully so. Google was recently ordered to pay USD$391m (£321m) in fines after being found guilty of tracking users’ movements after they had turned location tracking off. 

Behavioural targeting has been a powerful marketing asset for many years - but its influence is waning. Safari’s decision in 2017 to block third-party cookies by default now appears to be a pioneering move, with Google poised to follow suit in 2024

Advertising has reached a crossroads. Brands must explore new ways to connect with their audiences - and this doesn’t mean starting from scratch. Contextual targeting may have fallen out of favour in digital marketing spheres but it has continued to deliver across other mediums. Print publications use this technique to place ads alongside relevant content to great effect. 

Some brands have expressed reluctance to revert to past strategies. The evolution of AI and machine learning, however, has given contextual a new lease of life.

Consumers make their voices heard

Consumers have had enough of their personal details being used as pawns by advertisers. A recent poll of UK consumers found that 31% reported they felt violated by the way that behavioural tracking operates. 

Locational data has been the brand marketers’ Holy Grail for too long. Tracking users’ movements across websites - as well as the frequency and time of day they load up certain sites - provides a window into their routines and can be leveraged to easily develop a portfolio on individuals. 

Eliminating cookies from the equation is a necessity for preserving online safety. Behavioural targeting’s effectiveness at producing demographic consumer profiles is unrivalled. But with this practice soon to be rendered obsolete by the depreciation of cookies, now is the opportune moment to switch tactics. 

So how can migrating to an AI-based contextual advertising strategy provide marketers with the foundation to improve both campaign efficiency and effectiveness? 

Time for an upgrade

Social media, television, online - every medium has become saturated by ads. And the knock-on effect of this is that consumers are being subjected to the same ad time and again. Kantar’s research indicates that this ‘bombardment’ is responsible for only 11% of consumers genuinely ‘enjoying’ advertising. 

Using real-time contextual signals as opposed to cookies allows contextual advertising to easily navigate this challenge. It keeps consumers’ personal data safe and secure without the need to sacrifice efficiency. AI’s inclusion also allows us to understand the best way to optimise and achieve the best performance results. 

Analysing a website’s page content offers greater insight into content’s subject matter and context - this works across written and visual content alike. Combining all these web context signals with situational signals like the time of day, weather, or screen orientation is the catalyst for improved segmentation, thereby increasing campaign performance and efficiency. 

AI’s evolution provides brands with a foundation to better identify which keywords are resonating with audiences. Leveraging contextual targeting tools is vital in brands’ pursuit of relevance. Cookies, whilst being effective for more than a decade, are seeing their role shrink - contextual AI is the best way to deliver improved KPIs for cookieless campaigns at the top of the funnel. 

The performance side is improving - but this is not the time for stagnation. Integrating contextual targeting’s capabilities will allow the industry to rise up to meet the challenges brands and agencies are facing in the mid-to-low funnel. Contextual opens the door to real-time metrics and data, both of which are fundamental in developing audience segments in real time and in a non-intrusive way. All of this means we have a much better understanding of the users’ activity and the content they are consuming, allowing us to really understand whether they will take action.

A blast from advertising’s past

Third-party cookies have been a crutch for marketers for years. Brands have grown complacent and haven’t been afraid to bend the rules in order to further their own advertising agendas. Google’s latest settlement - a sign of the times - highlights the fact that consumers won’t tolerate having their privacy invaded anymore. 

Seedtag has an opportunity to be at the bleeding edge of contextual performance advertising. Investing in this alternative strategy today and leaning more on AI and machine learning will revolutionise the way you target your audiences. Harnessing contextual targeting is the stepping stone to become the one-stop shop for brands trying to optimise KPIs at all levels of the funnel. Now is the optimal moment to embrace greater automation.