What is Contextual Targeting?

Contextual Targeting, or contextual advertising, is a method for targeting ads appearing on websites, mobile browsers or other ad supported devices based on the identity of the user and the content displayed.

A contextual ad system scans the text of a Web site for keywords and returns ads to the Web page based on what the user is viewing. For example, if the user is viewing a site about sports, and the site uses contextual targeting, the user might see ads for sports-related companies, such as memorabilia dealers or ticket sellers. Contextual targeting is also used by search engines to display ads on their search results pages based on what word(s) the user has searched for.

Contextual targeting is sometimes compared against behavioral targeting, but it is important to note the difference. Behavioral targeting is a technique used by advertisers and publishers to utilize a web user’s previous web browsing behavior to customize the types of ads they receive. Contextual targeting only uses site keywords to serve ads that align with that page’s content, not the users’ browsing history.

Contextual advertising is also called “In-Text” advertising or “In-Context” technology.