Targets hit in the center by arrows showing contextual targeting

Cookiepocalypse and the Rise of Contextual Targeting in a Cookieless Future

As 2021 approaches along with the imminent death of the third-party cookie, many point to contextual marketing as a potential alternative but question its efficacy. However, contextual marketing is not the same as it was 10 years ago. We must rethink it as we know it.

The step toward contextual marketing is not a step backwards, as many may think. As it has evolved and is no longer an “old” tool, contextual marketing will supplement whichever user-based ID solutions arise victorious from the Cookiepocalypse — creating a new, transparent way to reach key audiences in the cookieless future.

CPO Magazine sat down with Mikael Holcombe-Scali, Senior Business Development Manager at Semasio to get his thoughts.

How does contextual targeting create a new, transparent way to reach audiences in the cookieless future?

Mikael Holcombe-Scali, Senior Business Development Manager at Semasio
Mikael Holcombe-Scali, Senior Business Development Manager at Semasio

Some marketers will claim contextual targeting is archaic. Those marketers tend to forget that learning about users’ historical surfing behavior is also based on the content they consume across websites. So, the ability to contextually understand the content that the user is consuming at the time of the ad delivery can become a new and as-effective identifier for the target audience and the right state of mind. Just as cars improve every year, so does our ability to understand the context and resultant meaning of pages. Contextual targeting combines the age-old ideals of relevance with the scale, precision and seamlessness that is championed by programmatic media. Once you have a contextual target that works, it will continue to work in a privacy-compliant manner thanks to real-time updates. Further, it’s incredibly transparent: simply investigate the quality of the pages that make up your contextual targets.

From a privacy perspective, how does contextual marketing compare to other proposed solutions for third-party cookies?

The death of the cookie is good news, as it calls the industry to open up to other targeting options, such as contextual targeting. Contextual marketing won’t solve our need for a user-based solution, but it does permit highly targeted marketing in highly relevant environments without requiring behavioral data. And thanks to real-time updates, your contextual targets will autonomously update to include new, ideal environments for your advertisements. Regardless of what type of user-based solution arises from the Cookiepocalypse, marketers should use behavioral and contextual strategies in parallel.

Does contextual marketing ensure consumer privacy? How?

Contextual marketing concerns itself with the context and meaning of advertising environments, not the behavioral patterns of online users. Thus, it presumes the user is relevant to the advertisement without ever relying on the user’s historic behavior.

Contextual marketing has proven to be efficacious and it is real-time, #privacy-compliant and cookieless. #respectdata Click to Tweet

As more privacy regulations are introduced, what does the future of contextual targeting look like? Any predictions for adoption in 2021?

Since contextual marketing has proven to be efficacious and it is real-time, privacy-compliant and cookieless, many marketing leaders will seek it out. With an expected increase in demand, supply will also grow as the market seeks equilibrium. Those who already have their own contextual solution will bundle and promote it more regularly. Some large activation platforms and data providers without their own contextual solution will develop or acquire their own so that they can compete with those who do. Some, but likely fewer large activation platforms will remain truly “data-agnostic.”