With the deprecation of third-party cookies, the methods marketers employ to connect with their audiences in digital environments are evolving – especially in non-walled garden environments, where we see a move from audience targeting to contextual targeting. Whilst this is an exciting development, marketers need to deploy audience measurement to understand the workings and challenges of contextual targeting and ensure the best business outcomes.

With the rise of contextual targeting, marketers are moving away from delivering ads to audiences with specific demographics, interests and behaviours. Instead, they are, to a greater extent, delivering ads aligned with the content consumed.

Understanding the effect of this new ad placement paradigm is very important as the KPIs will likely remain the same as before despite the evolved targeting practices, which do not guarantee success in their own right.

The challenges of contextual targeting

While contextual targeting can be an effective way to benefit from a content halo effect (documented expertly for many years by the TV industry in terms of improving key metrics such as brand awareness and favorability), it also challenges marketers’ ability to understand which audience they are actually reaching in terms of real people and their true relevance for a particular product or service.

For example, auto brands targeting motoring content is, of course, a simple yet smart idea. However, if an auto brand aims to sell more cars, the basic marketing effectiveness questions still need to be answered to ensure the overall effect of the media investment can be optimised. In this case, the question should be, are the people being reached likely to be able to afford the car, and how many potential customers have I reached out of the available overall audience?

The benefits of audience measurement

By using audience measurement on contextually targeted campaigns, marketers can ensure that they keep control of the business goals of their investments. Specifically, it can help them answer staple effectiveness questions like:

  • What is the reach in my target audience?
  • How accurately am I reaching my target audience?
  • How often is my target audience seeing my campaign?
  • Which channels and contexts are most effective at reaching my target audience?

By equipping themselves with accurate answers to these questions, marketers can determine if they are achieving their desired results, thus helping them fine-tune their targeting strategy and improve the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Embark on the audience measurement journey

In conclusion, as targeting moves from audience targeting to contextual targeting, especially in open web and CTV environments, marketers need to deploy audience measurement to get valuable insights, allowing them to understand the audience they are reaching as well as which channels and contexts are most effective at reaching their target audience, helping them optimise their campaigns towards business goals, like cost-effective sales or brand growth.

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