By Sofia Pompeo

If your business is looking to utilize paid media, then you might want to research contextual and native advertising. 

Paid media is a great catalyst to get your brand out there and build recognition relatively quickly. It’s also affordable, depending on the type of ad you are running, and it’s easily measurable because you can track how much money you are spending and set budgets when applicable.

Are you curious about giving paid media a shot? You should do it! Let’s get into a couple of tactics on how your business can make the best use of contextual versus native advertising.

What is contextual advertising?

Contextual advertising is a form of paid media where you advertise on a website that is relevant to the content on the page. The ad and the content on the page should, in theory, go hand in hand. 

An easy example to understand this would be if you’re reading an article about the New York City Marathon, then there might be an ad for running sneakers that pops up on the same website. It’s all about focusing on where the user currently is and not where they have previously been, which is how this type of advertising differs from behavioral advertising.

Contextual Targeting

Contextual advertising is done by contextual targeting, which means you segment your ads by certain keywords or website topics. Keywords are typically more precise when targeting within your topic, and you should choose up to at least 50 keywords for one campaign, if applicable.

Your campaign should fit in broad categories or topics (e.g., health, music, geography, and so on). The network will then take a look at your keywords and topics to figure out what kind of content your display ads should be placed in when it analyzes a webpage. When you target your keywords and topics in the same ad group, Google will consider your keywords first when they decide where to show your ads. It’s important for your keywords and topics to align!

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Why use contextual advertising?

Now let’s get into some reasons why contextual advertising might be right for your business.

Affordability

Contextual advertising is more affordable than behavioral advertising, for instance, because it doesn’t rely on that much data and resources (which can cost money). Even though it’s not as personalized, it will reach a broader audience in the hope of luring visitors to your website.

Privacy

It does not invade people’s personal privacy. This type of advertising does not use personal information to serve advertising. You’ll want to make sure your ads are on compliant pages, and it’s easier to do so when you use contextual advertising.

Brand Reputation

Your brand reputation will stay more secure and positive. No one wants to see your ad in a place that they were never expecting to see it in the first place. Because you are able to pick exact topics and keywords, your ads will show where they are meant to and not on a random website, where people feel like they are being creepily followed.

As you can see, this type of paid media provides safe and effective ways to get your ad and message out to the public. Another form of contextual advertising is native advertising, which we’ll now get into.

What is native advertising?

Native advertising is a form of contextual advertising where the ads you create are designed to look like the website's content or media content that the viewer is currently on. So basically, it looks like your ad fits in perfectly with what is already there. 

They can be ads as recommended content on a webpage or in a social media feed (e.g., articles, infographics, videos, and so on). If the ad is in “a feed,” it would appear in your social network feed—like Twitter or Facebook—so you see it easily while scrolling through. If you’re reading an article, then a native ad would appear below what you’re reading. This type of advertising allows your brand to fit into, not disrupt, the experience that the current user is having.

Strategy-Setting

When you’re ready to create a native ad, just be sure to set the following:

  • What type of goal you want (e.g., build brand awareness or actually generate leads)
  • What type of messaging you want to use
  • What format you want to take advantage of

Once you have these decisions set in stone, you’re on your way to generate your content and ads.

Why use native advertising?

If you aren’t sure if this type of advertising is right for your business, these next few points might sway you!

Brand Awareness and Trust

Native advertising is great for building brand awareness and trust. You can create an experience for the user by developing ads that are appealing, relevant, and not disruptive.

When you do that, your brand isn’t being obnoxious or following people around where they don’t want to be followed. By sharing brand stories within relevant content and articles, you can drive more attention to your company. Plus, you can reach a broader audience this way. People will trust your brand more when your ads are custom, intriguing, and leave an impression.

Authentic Connections

If you’re creating interesting content that is customized, then it’s more likely that people will engage more. Native advertising gives you a chance to understand your audience so you can create a connection with them. Building engagement is important to have your brand become more relevant.

Contextual vs. Native Advertising: A Pair of Great Paid Media Opportunities

Both contextual advertising and native advertising are great opportunities for your company if you are curious about paid media. Especially if you’re a newer company trying to create brand awareness and identity, these are two options you should test out. They’re relatively affordable, and you’ll be able to reach the audience you are trying to target.

We hope this helps you decide which direction you want to go in!

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Sofia Pompeo

About the author

Sofia Pompeo is an Inbound Marketing Senior Specialist for SmartBug. She has had previous experience providing marketing solutions for clients in different industries, developing and executing social media content and implementing inbound marketing campaigns. She really enjoys utilizing every aspect of HubSpot. Read more articles by Sofia Pompeo.

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