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Next Generation Contextual Advertising Evolves Out of the Box

  |  March 23, 2010   |  Comments

Get the best of both worlds with contextual ads - exposure for branding and pricing for performance.

All media planners should be aware of, and using, contextual advertising. With contextual advertising, you get the best of both worlds: exposure and visibility for branding and refined relevancy and pricing for performance.

A few years ago, I wrote about the distinctions in contextual advertising. While differences remain, interesting advances in the delivery of contextual have been made.

One provider, Kontera, recently released some advances worth reviewing. With 81 million monthly unique consumers, 3.5 billion monthly page views, and more than 15,000 publishers, 7-year-old Kontera claims to own about 50 percent of the in-text contextual advertising market.

Kontera uses semantic analysis – the real-time natural language review of on-page publisher and client ad creative, and landing page content matched with keywords and sub-context – to serve relevant ads. To help protect its advertisers, Kontera has also "pre-loaded" its system with sensitive subject matter (death, war, crime, etc.) against which it will not serve ads.

In-text ads are triggered when a consumer mouses over identified (e.g., double-underlined) keywords. The ad has to be fully loaded in order for a consumer click to occur, which means that consumers are in total control of their ad experience. Traditionally, these 300x250 ads have been either static (text plus logo) or video, and have appeared in a box connected to the keyword.

Kontera's latest advancements, however, have pushed these boundaries – or perhaps it's better to say that they've eliminated these boundaries. Rather than serve an ad in a box, Kontera's new "Freedom" ad units allow the advertiser to display ads in the shape of its product or brand.

An ad for Curel, for example, appears as the product's dispenser pump; or the FedEx ad is the easily-recognized truck moving across the copy and then turning into the also commonly-seen FedEx envelope. Freedom units can be simple animation to elaborate rich media or video (or a hybrid thereof). Kontera can also wrap the video ad unit in a branded skin (produced by the advertiser or by Kontera at no additional cost) for extra, ever-present brand visibility.

Kontera has launched other new forms of ad delivery as well:

  • Video gallery: The consumer can click to select from a variety of video options (a great way to demo multiple uses of a product, for example); the video gallery ad is a larger ad unit (500x250)
  • User-generated content: Ads that invite users to create customized content like a postcard, or capture data in a form so the consumer can get requested information.
  • Social media: Ad units that can integrate live tweets or enable a consumer to follow a brand on Twitter or friend a brand on Facebook directly from the ad.
  • Content browsers: Expandable ads that scroll left-right or up-down to give the advertiser the ability to serve more content and deliver more functionality than the typical 300x250 ad:
  • Geo-location: Leveraging sites that have geo-locator features on their site already (retailers, dining, entertainment venues, etc.), the ads enable the consumer to type in her ZIP code and be taken to the advertiser's Web site location results page.

  • Customizable ad experiences: With all this new functionality and larger space (500x250), Kontera encourages advertisers to develop unique customized ads for a richer consumer experience.

In-text advertising has always delivered performance because of its relevancy and unobtrusiveness – the consumer has to generate the ad launch and has to want to keep it engaged in order for the ad to fully load. Even once the ad is fully loaded, the consumer may not click, so the advertiser wouldn't be charged under Kontera's CPC (define) pricing model. It's also an effective way for advertisers to deliver valuable ad impressions without having to pay for them.

Kontera has three key ways to help the advertiser optimize for campaign performance:

  • Click-through: At the most basic level, Kontera can shift the budget toward keywords that generate higher CTRs (define).

  • Video view time: Kontera can monitor the video view time of ads-initiated shift placements to videos that are getting the desired view-through.

  • Conversion: Kontera can provide the advertiser with conversion pixels and work with the client to optimize the campaign.

Kontera's newest ads take ad experiences that we know already tend to capture the consumer's attention (rich media, video) and place that experience directly "within" the content – not before, after, alongside, or above – yet all at the consumer's control. It's a powerful value proposition.

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Hollis Thomases

A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."

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