This Ain’t Your Parents’ Contextual Targeting


The digital industry is facing threats to its status quo that are forcing all stakeholders to ask whether it deserved to be the status quo in the first place. New data policies are pushing companies to change the way they handle their users’ data. Those legal pressures – combined with the complexity of targeting and measuring across platforms like Mobile and OTT – are shaking the foundation of Digital Advertising. Premium publishers are standing up for user experience that encourages user loyalty over time, while brand safety concerns have made advertisers more cautious about where they spend.

If we’re seriously asking whether that foundation was ever sustainable, that’s a good thing. The goal of advertising is to connect with a target audience—and more than that, to connect without wasted ad spend or deterioration of UX. And you can easily argue that seemingly limitless third-party data (much of it is only questionably useful) and inexpensive ad inventory wasn’t always great for pursuing those goals.

The industry has always hoped for less waste, and better-performing and more valuable ad inventory. Now is the right time to demand it. We need to build off the old “right message, right person, right time” handle and add the right sentiment, mindset, or environment.