Contextual targeting ‘back in vogue’ amid privacy changes and looming cookie decline


The privacy era in digital marketing is giving contextual targeting new life as more advertisers look to combine context with audience targeting to boost campaign results.

Advertisers have always leveraged contextual targeting, however Resolution Australia chief operating officer Phil Pollock says it has become more important amid privacy updates, including the phasing out of third-party cookies.

“There's definitely a renaissance coming back into contextual targeting,” Pollock says.

“Audience-led buying, the notion of precision targeting at the right place at the right time to the right audience, really took the limelight away from contextual targeting.

“And obviously with development within regulation around privacy, the ability to access IDs is becoming more challenging, at least on a one-to-one basis, so the idea of contextual targeting, or appearing in contextually relevant places, is coming back into vogue.”

Digital publishers have been investing in contextual targeting abilities to improve addressability. They have also been innovating in the space with Seven West Media recently announcing the ability for brands to embed ecommerce inside content, allowing viewers to purchase what they see on the screen.

“Now that the big tech platforms’ modus operandi has become all about privacy, it has focussed publishers to fast track or evolve their addressable strategies and audience knowledge graphs,” says Seven West Media director of intelligence Andrew Brain.

“At SWM we’ve aggressively done both. We’re able to offer brands logged-in addressable audiences at scale. Across 7plus we’re constantly enriching our own profiles of age, gender, life-stage and household composition with deterministic data collected from actual watching behaviour or what they indicate via their watchlists across mobile, web and connected TV.”

News Corp Australia NSW digital director Michael Krawczyk also says that the growth of audience targeting in past years often came at the expense of context. To boost its contextual targeting, News Corp Australia has a range of data partners, such as Flybuys, to help brands target a customer within the right context.

Krawczyk says a recent campaign by the Costa group for its MushBOOM packaged mushroom range was a strong example of the compounding effect of audience and context on business outcome.

Using News Corp Australia’s first-party food audiences and matched partner segments from Flybuys, coupled with social display formats across Taste, Delicious, Australia’s Best Recipes, and the broader News Corp network, Costa Group was able to reach health conscious-consumers, parents, and lapsing category buyers to increase consideration of mushrooms. The campaign redefined Costa group’s approach to audience targeting and drove a 3:1 ROI for every dollar spent based on Flybuys sales lift reporting.

“The key to successfully combining context and audience is that you fundamentally need scale in both,” he says.

“At News Corp, we leverage the quality attention that we earn from huge unique audiences, with superior repeat visitation and dwell times in contexts such as news, sport, lifestyle, food, travel and entertainment.

“That increased volume and frequency of attention, in context, gives us the unique opportunity to deploy custom combinations of our 3,200+ transparent audience segments within those contextually relevant environments.”

10 data strategy and audience manager Alexandra MacDonald says that by combining contextual and audience targeting, advertisers can reach customers throughout the whole user journey, tapping into both awareness and precision.

“Accurate data collection and data quality are at the forefront of our digital strategy, allowing for greater personalisation and a more relevant experience,” MacDonald says.

“Audience targeting feels tailored, extends reach, and allows for smart path to purchase techniques, driving users through the purchase journey. Contextual targeting also offers relevance but often in a more natural way, aligning brands and improving recall. It’s brand safe and not limited by any industry changes.

“Having an addressable audience allows us to bust stereotypes when it comes to viewing behaviours, enabling advertisers to target people with confidence both contextually and through a data-driven approach.”

Foxtel is in the process of launching the ability for advertisers to buy audience segments across Kayo. Using a combination of Kayo and third-party data sets, advertisers will be able to reach highly targeted audiences at scale across the premium sporting platform.

“Both audience and contextual targeting are important and it is down to the objectives of a campaign that will determine the level of targeting applied,” says Foxtel Media national head of digital sales Chris Oxley.

“At Foxtel Media, across Kayo and Fox Sports, we offer advertisers the ability to reach sport enthusiasts. For some campaigns this is sufficient. However, we know that sport audiences can be quite fragmented depending on the code, so applying audience or code targeting enables advertisers to deliver specific audiences within these premium environments.”

At Nine, director of advertising and data products Ben Campbell says that many auto manufacturer campaigns use contextual targeting together with audience targeting to achieve a full-funnel approach to marketing.

“Typically, auto manufacturers use broad demographic and lifestyle/interest targeting to build awareness around new car launches. They use a combination of contextual targeting across car reviews and comparisons content together with more in-market audience segmentation to support retail activity and drive footfall into dealerships to shift car sales,” Campbell says.

“For activation of sponsorships to extend the reach of like-minded audiences who may not be consuming the relevant content at the time, a good example is how brands buy into the Australian Open.

“Marketers will want high impact executions and integration in the live stream, on-demand content and broader editorial coverage, and then extend reach by targeting tennis fans through audience targeting across the broader Nine digital network.”

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

comments powered by Disqus