Why Context is Now King


It’s more than 20 years since Bill Gates, predicting an internet tidal wave of opportunity and a new dawn for how we live, work and play, stated: content is king!

Just as the broadcasting revolution before it created new industries, such as TV sets, cable manufacturing, around-the-clock advertising and an aggressive, multi-billion-pound fight to win live sports rights, so the internet has created a similar abundance of lucrative opportunities in SEO, audience targeting, data and content; this last has never been more in vogue.

Whilst Gates was right in presciently saying back then –

“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting”

      there is now so much content out there, from expensively-produced, big budget productions, to low-budget blogs, that where your content is seen – the environment, the context – is now becoming equally important.

The right time – Context

Many brands have based their digital advertising on the assumption that past behaviour predicts future performance, hence the rise and rise of retargeting.

But contexts change.

What you searched for last week, or yesterday, or even this morning, sounds targeted, but we can be a gym junkie at 6am and, by lunch, a busy executive in need of some fast food and a mum or dad in the evening. We have different priorities at different times of the day.

Which is why targeting online users at the right time – or in the moment – is key.

And as GDPR is a live issue for many businesses in the digital space this year, any sites that use retargeting based on third-party cookies may hit a brick wall, as many users could opt out of allowing a retargeting cookie to be loaded onto their device.

As such, an understanding of what a reader, or online consumer, is doing in the moment, will assume more importance on the buyer’s journey.

The right place – Brand safety & trusted sources

This was writ large when JPMorgan Chase’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Kristin Lemkau, launched an investigation into its media buying, which revealed that the bank’s advertising was found to be running on 400,000 sites-a-month.

There has also been a flood of issues that have engulfed YouTube in recent months, including extremist content turning up alongside major brands, universities and charities, which resulted in an exodus of a series of high-profile advertisers.

On top of this, fake news is now part of the digital conversation and lexicon – it played “an important role” in 18 recent elections, according to democracy watchdog, Freedom House.

What underscores all of this is: trust.

And recent surveys have crystallised that online users trust premium publishers for accuracy more than social media: some 79% of respondents said they think it’s important to know where their news content comes from, according to supply-side platform, Sharethrough. The BBC (79%) and The Guardian (55%) ranked high compared to the big two social media outlets, Facebook and Twitter, who ranked less than half.

One thing remains clear: quality content will always win and, ultimately, premium publishers, with centuries-old traditions of publishing fact-checked, informative copy, are where that content is generally found.

Where your advertising is appearing has, therefore, never been more important.

But brands are getting in on the act…

The rise of branded content

“At least more than half the time, they’re [readers] seeking out brands they trust and know,” Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, said in a research study.

Now brands recognise there is a shift in online consumers’ habits and have started to take content seriously, hiring former journalists and marketers. Adidas have a newsroom, producing content every week; law firms and banks and asset managers, which Smartology all partners with, are publishing white papers and podcasts, fully aware of the ongoing battle to win hearts and minds on the buyer’s journey.

As KPMG said in a recent consumer markets report:

“Consumers today are shopping all the time and everywhere.”

True innovation

Smartology brings true innovation to premium online advertising with contextual targeting, working with some of the world’s biggest brands, from financial services – Nomura, BBVA and Credit Suisse – to asset management, such as Pimco and Vanguard to professional services: Deloitte, PwC and many more.

This is through the use of semantic profiling and relevancy matching to accurately match the world’s most premium publisher articles with highly relevant branded and native content. Our proprietary technology uses machine learning and natural language processing to understand the true meaning of content and serve readers with highly relevant creatives in real time, whilst the user is engaged with that particular topic, resulting in unprecedented performance. Furthermore these are served via programmatic platforms, on a variety of leading publisher sites. 

Hence, targeting consumers in the moment on those trusted publisher sites, can be a win-win and become a key touch point on the buyer’s journey.

Watch this video to understand how Smartology’s cookie free solution can target readers at the right moment



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