Earlier this month ROAST teamed up with Teads to run a test that compared a traditional 3rd party data buy to one that used a contextually curated whitelist. In this post, we pull out five lessons we learned from running the test and writing the whitepaper that followed it.

 

If done right, contextual targeting can mitigate the effects of GDPR

In fact, contextual and curated media buys perform very similarly to campaigns where 3rd party data is overlaid. Whilst not applicable for all campaigns, the test proved that a comparable result can be achieved by applying care and attention to other parts of the campaign set-up, shifting the focus away from the 3rd party segments which the industry has come to rely so heavily on.

 

Website performance scores are a key factor 

Carefully curated contextual campaigns are not solely about the matching of ad content to similar publisher content. When diving into the details of site-by-site performance, it became apparent that website performance scores matter. One of the insights from the test was that publishers with high performing website scores can deliver strong results regardless of their contextual relevance to the campaign. In identifying this, a new strategy for whitelist curation has been revealed; one which is based on using SEO expertise to assemble a collection of well-developed sites to run media against.

 

Don’t be blinded by contextual relevance 

The potential rewards for combining both contextual relevance and site performance are sizeable. However, no matter how contextually relevant a site is to an ad campaign, if it is slow, glitchy or muddled with ads, the media buy will not resonate with the end user. In chasing the holy grail of contextual targeting, it is important to resist the temptation to shoe horn in poorly-constructed websites just because their content seems a great fit for the campaign.

 

Scale is important, but hard to achieve

The learnings from the test form a model for constructing a thoroughly-planned contextual media buy. The rigour that was applied to testing and curating the publisher sites cannot be carried out for every media buy and at all scales. However, moving into a media landscape which will be governed by the GDPR, the thought processes that media planners and buyers will have to exercise if they want to ensure their digital advertising continues to reach audiences cost-effectively and in a way that will resonate, have been shown.

 

Build your own whitelist

Build out a repository of publishers whose webpages are hospitable environments for ads. This knowledge can then be overlaid onto a variety of different campaigns and media buys, ensuring that any curated or stock whitelist is cleansed of poorly-developed web properties. Storing up this kind of knowledge will allow agencies and advertisers to run a more refined, more sophisticated form of contextual targeting, at scale.

 

If you want to learn more about contextual targeting, you can download the full whitepaper here.