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Content (Contextual) Targeting

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

What is it?

As we move away from audience targeting, we move into contextual targeting. We are now matching our ad to the content or website. So, while audience targeting relates to who, contextual targeting relates to where. So, what type of content? Where is the content that we’re targeting? It could be any audience. It could be multiple audiences, but it’s the content we’re most interested in.

Targeting options

Our targeting options within the contextual sphere are contextual keywords, topics, and placements.

  • Keywords: Keywords are where we target specific keywords that appear in blogs or news articles, and so on.
  • Topics: We target specific websites based on the type of website it says it is. So, it’s a health website, it’s a beauty website, it’s a travel website. It’s any of the placements of that travel website, whereas with keywords it’s only where those keywords appear.
  • Placements: Placements themselves is a specific website. So if you choose to, you know, to just target a specific website, you found there’s one website on the Google Display Network, or 10 websites, or 100 websites on the Google Display Network that you want to target specifically, you can create an ad group or a series of our groups for those specific placements.

Target ads by keywords

So to deep dive into targeting by keywords, the key to this is to choose relevant keywords and phrases. Importantly, you won’t choose the type of keywords that you would choose in your search campaign. Search tends to be very specific and focused. You focus on purchasing iPhones, or booking holidays, or whatever.

With display, it can be much broader keywords like best travel advice for New York, best travel advice for Taiwan, whatever it may be. So keywords that you wouldn’t necessarily put in your search campaign you can put in your display campaign because it’s about awareness, it’s not about driving action always. While search tends to be very focused in on those action driving keywords, we do find that display, you can broaden it out to much broader keywords. As a best practice, it’s always good not to just copy your search campaign onto display, because it will be too narrow. You need to broaden it out to understand what display is trying to do with that awareness piece.

Now at the same time, the structuring is still the same. You will structure keywords by theme. So you’re not going to mix you know wildly different themes, but you are going to make sure that the keywords are broad enough.

All keywords on the Display Network are broad match, so everything will be automatically on broad match. And while we generally veer away from broad match on the search network, broad match is standard on the Google Display Network.

Target ads by topics

And continuing with contextual targeting, we can also target by topics. So we’re matching our ads to websites by topic.

We’re allowing for a little bit more precise targeting because it’s a certain category group that we’re looking after. It’s not as wide as audience targeting. It can be mixed when it comes to contextual keyword targeting, so contextual keyword targeting is the most specific because you’re saying it’s this particular keyword, while topic targeting is saying it’s this type of website. So, one can be specific, and one can be less specific.

But equally, they’re interchangeable in that regard, but we can quickly reach a wide audience who might be visiting that site. If we’re targeting adventure travel as a topic, we enable our ads to be shown on all websites that have relevant content around adventure travel or adventure travel related topics.

We don’t have to build up vast keyword lists. We can just kind of grab a group of topics and say, “Well, this is the kind of content that we’re interested in.” And so it’s a little bit of time saving in your build out.

Target ads by placements

Targeting by placements is where we target a specific website or a specific video on YouTube for example. We generally begin with automatic placements, which is any website that fits our topic is eligible to show our ad, or any website which contains our keyword is eligible to show our ad.

When we review our automatic placements, we’re then able to choose where you want your ad to show. What are the best placements that I can see from my list that are performing to my KPIs? Then you might select these particular placements and remove them from the automatic placements. You can then put them in brand new placement campaigns and placement ad groups. So you’re focusing solely in on these placements. You found them originally or you know about them. You found them originally through the automatic placements which happens as a result of doing any kind of topic or contextual keyword targeting.

And then you extract them from the automatic placements and create them as standalone placements within your account, so we can target specific websites or whole aspects of that website. It’s very targeted. It is probably the most drill-down version of targeting on the contextual piece within the Google Display Network.

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Cathal Melinn

Cathal Melinn is a digital strategist, lecturer, and trainer. He has over 15 years’ experience in eCommerce, social media, affiliate marketing, data analytics, and all things digital. He worked at Yahoo! Search in 2005 as a Senior Search Strategist for the UK Financial Services vertical. He moved to the world of agency in 2010 as Head of Search and Online Media. Cathal’s previous clients include Apple, Vodafone, Expedia, Virgin, Universal Music Group, Amazon, Compare the Market, and HSBC.

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