Targeting types: contextual vs. behavioral
For many years, marketing specialists have disputed about various approaches to targeting. Some of them claimed that contextual targeting is the best choice for reaching the desired audience, while others assured that the behavioral approach is more advanced and effective for modern advertising.
Today we can conclude that the choice of a definite approach depends on various factors. To make a decision, it is necessary to understand the essence of each type of targeting.
The contextual approach to audience targeting
Such an approach to targeting presupposes that the adverts are displayed on the basis of the content placed on a definite site. For example, the placement of a cook ad on the website with recipes is a very good idea because you are likely to find your potential buyers there.
Contextual targeting is divided into two types:
- category contextual targeting
- keyword contextual targeting.
The first one refers to the situation when adverts are targeted to webpages, which fall into pre-assigned categories. The second type refers to the cases when ads are targeted to webpages, which match specific keywords.
Another form of contextual targeting, which is considered by experts to be the most advanced, is semantic targeting. Compared to keywords contextual targeting, where it is required to only identify matching keywords on a webpage, the semantic approach uses machine learning in order to understand the meaning of each webpage of content. The algorithm is as follows:
- the web is scanned and the webpages are divided into categories on the basis of semantics and context
- as soon as a visitor opens a webpage, the content information from it gets transferred to the ad server
- the advert server matches the content information with relevant ads.
The efficiency of advert matching greatly depends on the quality of the system you use and its ability to understand the content of the webpage.
Keep in mind that contextual targeting is much cheaper in comparison with behavioral targeting. Such a fact makes an approach cost-effective.
The behavioral approach to audience targeting
Such an approach presupposes audience targeting by means of the analysis of the browsing behavior of the visitors. For the realization of this method, the following information is collected:
- webpages, which people visited
- searches performed by the audience
- links, which people clicked/followed
- products purchased by the users.
Sometimes the information from stores is also collected (both online and offline ones) including location, products people are interested in/bought, etc.
Considering such data, it is possible to divide the audience into categories. Having narrow segments of potential customers, marketers can make targeting much more effective reaching the audience with specific and relevant adverts or other content.
As a result, advertising becomes very personalized. Moreover, it is displayed at the moment a user is most likely to buy. One of the prominent examples of the behavioral targeting application is retargeting advertising.
Despite the high effectiveness of behavioral targeting, it is vital to be very careful. Make sure you have access to a wide range of data about your potential customers. If you are not certain that you have enough information, the contextual targeting approach will be much safer for you.
How to make the right decision?
Considering the information about each approach to targeting, you can see that both of them are highly effective.
They are used by marketers and are likely to be used by them for many years to come. The truth is that each of them is worth testing.
It is connected with the fact that both targeting methods keep developing and evolving thanks to the development of new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence. Besides, today marketers have access to a bigger amount of information about Internet users.
The landscape of modern marketing also continues changing.
Selecting one of the methods, consider the budget you are really ready to spend on targeting as well as the amount of data you can obtain about your target audience. It is a very good idea for an advanced marketer to mix the approaches described and use them together within one marketing strategy.
Thus, you can create a more global approach to targeting reaching your potential customers in various ways and at different points of their journey.