Contextual Targeting

Effective targeting is one of the most important aspects in display advertising. Contextual targeting allows advertisers to only place their ads on pages that meet their topical criteria. For example, advertisers can choose to have their ads served only on pages that match chosen topical categories such as Real Estate::Buying/Selling Homes or Fashion::Accessories, depending on the subject matter and target demographic of their campaign.

How It Works

Third-party providers (like Peer39, Proximic, and GrapeShot) analyze the content of URLs whenever an impression comes into the system. Once the content of the URL is evaluated, it returns with several categorizations, along with a number that indicates the relevancy score of each attributed category. Using this data, the DSP knows the topics/categories that any URL falls into, before bidding on it.

If a page does not meet your campaign's criteria, the system will not bid on it.

Using Contextual Targeting in Your Campaign

To enable contextual targeting,

  1. On the campaign's General screen, check Contextual Targeting.
  2. Add segments from one of the third-party providers in the list and set up the rules for that segment.

Targeting Categories

  • Choose the categories for the pages you want the campaign to run on and set the Targeting value to Require. (This is the default.)

For example, this campaign would bid on impressions on URLs that are categorized as Politics, as well as URLs that are categorized as Economy:


Contextual Sets

When you've arranged your segments and logic in a way that you might want to use again, you can save them as a set. A set includes:

  • one or more contextual segments
  • target/exclude rules 
  • AND/OR targeting relationship between the segment rules

You can use a set in as many campaigns as you like. 

If you apply a set to an existing campaign, the set overwrites all previously existing segments.  

See Contextual and Brand Protection Sets for details. 

Best Practices

When running a campaign with contextual targeting, we highly recommend that you choose “Run of Network” or a high volume of general sites. The real power of contextual targeting lies in the ability to find targeted pages on sites with a variety of different subject matter. In other words, targeting automotive categories on (for example) would be redundant. Targeting more general sites, like news outlets, forums, or blogs, is where you have the best chances of finding relevant pages: in a larger pool of general content.

Brand Protection/Brand Safety

Brand protection is a special type of contextual targeting that shows your ad on sites that don't contain certain types of content.

Unavailable and Hidden Contextual and Brand Safety Segments

Third-party providers sometimes retire segments that were previously available. When this happens, the segment usually becomes hidden before it becomes unavailable in the system:

  • Hidden segments are currently operational, but will eventually be retired. Hidden segments do not appear in the list of third party segments, but campaigns that already target these segments continue to do so.
  • Unavailable segments no longer appear in the list of segments, and campaigns that already target them will no longer do so.

When you edit a campaign that includes a hidden or unavailable segment, you will see an alert about these segments and a warning symbol appears next to them in your targeting rules.

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