Is Contextual Analysis the Answer to a Cookie-less World?

Whether we want to accept it or not, third-party cookies are on their way out. The European Union has passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California has the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in place, Google is dropping third-party cookies by 2022 and Firefox blocks them by default. With third-party data becoming increasingly regulated, one thing has become extremely clear: Targeted ads will no longer follow us around.

So, now what? What is next for targeted advertising? Contextual analysis could be the answer advertisers are looking for.

By definition, contextual analysis is the scanning of a web page to gain an understanding of the historical, cultural and contextual background of the content. For advertisers, contextual analysis allows for targeting that's not about tracking user behavior, but instead about the type of content a user has chosen to view. And, it is fast: Millions of web pages can be read in minutes to provide a comprehensive report of the targetable content.

GumGum's Verity, for instance, focuses on broad categorization and scans for tone instead of relying on keyword searching. Verity sets itself apart from other contextual analysis tools because it combines natural language processing with computer vision technology to execute a multi-layered reading process.

First, it finds the meat of the article on the page, which means differentiating it from any sidebar and header ads. Next, it parses the body text, headlines, image captions with natural language processing; at the same time, it uses computer vision to parse the main visuals.

GumGum's CTO, Ken Weiner, explains that Verity is often the only entity that reads a page before a brand places an ad on it. Since ad spaces get bought and filled in a mere millisecond, humans simply can't work fast enough to keep up. This process is wholly algorithmic. This is where Verity comes in. Verity blends its textual and visual analysis into one cohesive report, which it sends off to an adserver. The adserver then automatically assesses whether Verity's report on a given page matches its advertiser's campaign criteria.

Although contextual analysis isn't a new concept, it has become extremely important as a forerunning solution to third-party data. And, it is not to be underestimated. Contextual analysis is more than $100 billion market with immense growth potential. As human intelligence continues to curate larger training data sets for contextual analysis tools like Verity, these tools can crawl more and more sites with increased precision. And, as such advances continue to happen, contextual analysis could become the future of targeted advertising.

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