Contextual and Behavioral Targeting: Worth a Try

Media buyers wanting to deliver targeted ads to online audiences certainly have a lot of options these days. Countless behavioral targeting and contextual advertising companies boast the ability to improve campaign return on investment (ROI) by matching ad messages with Internet users, page content, and editorial copy to heighten ad relevance.

One company has promised such results for some time now, working from a slightly different contextual advertising model. On the heels of a hot new client case study comes the targeting relief advertisers seek.

Contextual ad agency adrelief, which I reviewed a few years back, would prefer you to call its offering Situational Advertising Technology (SAT). Like industry player Google’s AdSense program, adrelief’s technology matches ad messages with page content. Since it partners with portals and networks to do so, it’s able to deliver contextually targeted banners, skyscrapers, and other visual formats as opposed to only text ads. Ads are matched to page copy for heightened relevance.

The company’s ability to deliver contextually targeted creative recently caught the attention of bra manufacturer Playtex, which ran an adrelief campaign on a major women’s portal.

After an initial attempt to promote its new “Thank Goodness it Fits” 1/2 size bra, Playtex hoped to gather more information on potential customers by driving sign-ups through a contest and a free product sample. In addition to a basic run-of-channel media buy on the portal, Playtex had adrelief deliver unique branded banners to users throughout the most relevant site channel, based on page content.

When a user perused content about being a new mother, she’d receive a banner reading, “Announcing a first: half-sizes for bras! If being a new mommy were half this easy” (the copy leaves something to be desired, but you get the drift). When the user looked at a communications article, a banner reflecting the page text appeared.

According to adrelief and the women’s portal, the campaign’s objective was to “make every impression target its associated page.” This tactic was intended to show consumers Playtex could empathize with them and it understood the nature of their day-to-day lives.

According to the campaign results, consumers bought it and responded very well indeed. Adrelief-enabled impressions generated a 200 percent increase in clicks and a 60 percent increase in conversions (in this case, online consumer registration) over the standard run-of-channel media buy in the same portal section.

Media buyers worth their salt know contextual and behaviorally targeted ads consistently outshine standard ad campaigns performance-wise. An ad that’s relevant to the consumer who views it is more likely to incite a response; it’s just plain logical. buyers who aren’t on top of this type of ad targeting or don’t consider it in relation to virtually every campaign, do their agencies and clients a disservice.

Aside from the potential results, adrelief’s product provides a number of benefits to media buyers. According to the company, adrelief-enabled campaigns improve ad performance by an average 200 to 400 percent. The company will work with any site, network, or portal to contextually deliver ads, which means even inexpensive run-of-site campaigns can be contextually targeted for improved performance.

Cost to the advertiser? Adrelief campaign pricing is based on performance. The charge is 50 percent of click increase. If you pay a publisher a $1 CPM and adrelief increases the average performance rate by 100 percent, you pay 50 percent of that CPM, or $0.50 CPM, in addition to the negotiated publisher fee.

For advertisers seeking a more predictable pricing model, flat CPM rates are also available. These vary based on the number of impressions purchased.

If you’re interested in testing adrelief’s technology but find the majority of your current campaigns comprise search engine advertising, you may be in luck. Word is the company’s in talks to expand and apply its ad-targeting solution to search engine campaigns. That means contextually targeted banners and other forms of display advertising on search engines could be imminent.

In one form or another, ad-targeting technology is winning over advertisers and publishers alike. From a media buyer’s perspective, it’s at least worth a test. Any form of advertising that has enough momentum to positively change the online landscape is bound to be around for a while.

Join us at ClickZ’s upcoming AdForum and at Search Engine Strategies.

Vote for your favorite product or campaign from July 20 through close of business August 2.

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