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More Innovative Methods for Contextual Targeting

Trend Report 2023: More innovative methods for contextual targeting

The following is an extract from The Bank’s Trend Report 2023, our deep dive into the events and innovations that are set to shape and characterise online advertising and digital marketing over the next 12 months.

To access the full report, along with our directory of essential tools for 2023, click here.

Part IV: In a Cookieless World, Context Is King

Before the mass adoption of cookies and behavioural targeting, contextual advertising served as the foundation upon which most digital marketing campaigns were built. Formative contextual platforms—such as Google AdSense—would scan a site’s content for linguistic elements (keywords), and return an ad based on the output of that sweep. 

With cookies came more rigorous techniques for effective ad placement, along with programmatic and automated bidding tools that streamlined the sale and delivery of inventory. But, as advertisers of 2022 reluctantly accept the imminent obsolescence of third-party cookies, contextual marketing is making a resurgence, with marketing platforms developing ever more refined and sophisticated solutions to meet this new demand.

The return to contextuality is reflected in the numbers, as the global contextual advertising market—worth £135.7 billion in 2020—is expected to hit £288.92 billion by 2026 (a CAGR of 13.3%). This is indicative of the industry’s broad acceptance of context as an advertising cornerstone—one that is fundamental to survival in a cookieless future. 


Consumer Preference

79% of consumers prefer ads which are relevant to the site they are on rather than those they’ve been on; significantly, these preferences are more likely to result in sales, as 65% of UK consumers indicate they’d be more tempted to purchase a product from an ad that is relevant to the page they’re currently viewing. 

A growing number of consumers are rejecting the “creepy” behavioural ads which follow them across the web. In light of this, we predict that those advertisers and publishers who embrace a contextual vision for audience targeting will see increased engagement, consumer trust, and ROI.

Consumer Trends

Astute leveraging of contextual intelligence can allow marketers to capitalise on trending topics, public holidays, news, and special events at the planning stage, readying their ad materials in advance for automatic deployment during these key times. 

At the point of activation, contextual tools can utilise AI-driven predictive contextual segments that automatically populate keywords from trending topics. This enables brands to boost their visibility by aligning themselves with positive news events, whilst avoiding awkward associations with negative stories and trends.

Outcome-Driven Campaigns

As contextual intelligence becomes more polished and precise, advertisers will be given increased opportunities to optimise their campaigns based on predefined outcomes. 

By programming contexts that build segments which meet a desired goal, contextual campaigns will have the accuracy to target a specific CPA, CTR, impression rate, or myriad other outcomes. 



With its privacy-first philosophy and AI-driven platform, GumGum’s name has become synonymous with contextual advertising.

Verity, the company’s proprietary contextual intelligence software, scans text, image, audio, and video to derive “human-like understandings”. The efficacy of the platform has been confirmed by independent studies, with Verity yielding results that were 1.7x more accurate than those of other contextual vendors, with a 48% lower cost-per-click, and 41% lower cost per viewable impression.


Parisian display platform Criteo encourages advertisers to look beyond the keywords that drove their campaigns of old, embracing a contextual future that leans on first-party commerce data to place ads in the places that they’ll have the most impact.

Criteo employs semantic analysis and natural language processing to source on-page contextual information, and develop a picture of which ads would be most effective. It scans for meta information and keywords at the URL level, the site level, the category level, and the main body of the page, and also conducts effective image analysis to build and return an aesthetically pleasing result.


Comscore’s robust contextual advertising solutions are built around proprietary AI technology. Their AI crawler classifies all media content at a granular level, ensuring effective scaling across CTV, video, mobile, and audio.

Its Audience Segment Manager has been developed to create privacy-friendly audience targets, without relying on cookies or invasive third-party data.

We’ll be posting further extracts from the Trend Report 2023 in the coming weeks.

Can’t wait to read more? Get instant access to the full report here.

0. Executive Summary
1. The Proliferation of Incentive-Based First-Party Data Strategies
2. Fresh Solutions for Tracking and Retargeting
3. A Recalibrated Approach to Targeting and Lead Identification
4. More Innovative Methods for Contextual Targeting
5. A Greater Focus on Values-Based Marketing and Consumer Connection
6. Expanded Opportunities for Programmatic Digital Out-of-Home
7. Stronger Programmatic Pathways into Video Ads
8. Reliance on Voice Assistants Heralds a Hands-Free Future
9. Digital Planning for Real-World Implementation
10. Apple Makes Aggressive Moves into Digital Advertising
11. Global 5G Adoption Boosts Programmatic Ad Serving
12. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Do the Heavy Lifting for Planning and Creative
13. A Push for Cohesive Cross-Device and Cross-Channel Experiences
14. More Sophisticated Access to In-App Inventory
15. Stricter Adherence to the Better Ads Standards


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