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Contextual Marketing

Pushing the envelope - though the frequent complaints and whimsical attitude toward the negative side of contextual marketing receives an alarming amount of press, it has only increased in relevance as an imperative marketing tool of the future.

Pop-ups, pop-unders, ads related to exactly what you have been searching for while using the Internet on your favorite computer, coincidence? There is no more exciting of a tool to an avid advertising and marketing executive or small business owner in America. And with the almighty Google stepping into the arena with the Gmail solution delivering text based and banner ads based on the relevance of the advertiser and the actual text in the email - the future looks very exciting.

Assuming that you are new to the arena of contextual marketing, we have re-published an article from a premier contextual marketing desktop publishing network that is a preferred vendor for you to read through.

Contextual Advertising: Scratching the Surface of Behavioral Marketing

Contextual advertising has been getting a lot of press lately, chiefly because of its effectiveness. Compared to other online ad targeting methods, such as targeting by demographics, contextual targeting produces better response. But contextual advertising is just part of a larger movement that is sweeping the online marketing world. This movement is known as behavioral marketing.

Contextual advertising represents the first step in a shift in how we think about audiences. Rather than targeting audiences solely on demographics (Men 18-49, College graduates 18+), marketers are learning to target by online behavior. The first step is to shed the well-established offline demographic targeting methodology and begin to look at the mindset and observed actions of the consumer. Contextual advertising does just that.

Take, for instance, keyword advertising on search engines and portals. A car manufacturer who bids on keyword "minivan" is hoping to capture prospects based on their web behavior - searching for information on minivans at a search engine. The car manufacturer hopes not only to reach the right prospect, but also to reach that prospect at just the right time, when he's searching for information. But contextual advertising in this fashion is only scratching the surface of the ability to target desirable consumer behaviors.

What if an advertiser could identify a minivan buyer entering the consideration process by, say, noticing that the consumer was gathering information from a number of auto-related websites? Furthermore, what if marketers could identify behavior that indicated that a consumer was moving down the consideration funnel and is deciding between two specific models/options? There is a tremendous opportunity to present a targeted and relevant message when these types of behaviors are identified.

That's what behavioral marketing is all about, and what the Claria Corporation has been doing for years. Not simply presenting ads in context, but varying the content of the ad based on individual consumer behavior. By way of comparison, let's use a hypothetical example.

A search engine sees a person searching for "flights to Europe." Aside from the person's indication that they're looking for flight information, the search engine doesn't know anything specific about the person's needs. For example, the search engine doesn't know if the person is a heavy traveler, a loyal user, or how often that person views an airline site or other travel category sites. The search engine does know that the person is interested in the general travel category and can certainly trigger an airline's generic "one size fits all" ad. This is certainly better than what most web site publishers can offer with their demographic profiling approach - and this example of the contextual marketing model certainly does offer tremendous value. But it only scratches the surface of the capabilities of the larger entity - behavioral marketing.

Like the contextual marketer, the technology behind behavioral marketing sees that same person viewing an airline site. But the difference is that the behavioral marketer has an ongoing relationship with the consumer - they know much more about this person than the contextual marketer. The behavioral marketer knows:

  • If this person is loyal to a specific airline
  • If this person is a heavy traveler or light traveler
  • If this person is a repeat customer or first time customer
  • If this person bought travelers insurance that last time that they purchased a ticket
  • If this person belongs to a frequent flier program and cares about mileage points

    These are all behaviors that can be easily identified by behavioral marketers, and advertisers have the opportunity to be able to craft and present targeted messages and promotional offers to consumers who display these specific behaviors.

Not surprisingly, behaviorally targeted advertising produces better results than that of content-targeted or demographically-targeted ads. Appealing to the mindset of the consumer through behavioral targeting can produce click rates in the double digits, something not seen since the mid-1990s. Back-end conversion rates are equally impressive.

Offers can be customized at the consumer level only if a marketer has access to historical context, data and insights. The data and the insights are a huge value to the advertiser.

What are the benefits to consumers? While no consumer is clamoring to see ads while they are online, consumers do find value in ads that they perceive as relevant information. If a consumer who is planning a trip sees a travel ad that's customized to their known travel patterns they are more likely to find that ad interesting, they are more likely to conduct a transaction, and they are more likely to feel favorable towards the advertiser.

As a marketer, if you're seeking to identify a very specific behavior, perhaps only a small slice of the Internet population will be displaying that behavior at any given point in time. So, not only do you need the ability to observe that behavior, but you also need a large pool of potential prospects from which to pull the relevant prospects.

As a leader in the behavioral marketing space, Claria can deliver this scale. We have permission to observe the Web-wide behavior of over 43 million desktops. So no matter how obscure or niche the behavior you're looking to identify, we can find it.

By Scott Eagle,

Chief Marketing Officer, Claria Corporation

Valuing View-Based Responses -

A Case Study on the Branding Effect of Online Ads

When advertisers evaluate media spending, their main concern is the return on their investment. Online advertising is particularly measurable in this regard because immediate responses to an ad can be measured directly from the click to the purchase. However, online advertising is also responsible for driving additional purchases through the branding value of the ad impression itself, and this effect often goes unmeasured. Many online advertisers do not or cannot track the consumer who views an ad but does not immediately respond, and later purchases the product. This type of purchase, often referred to as a "view-based conversion" or "view-through," can now be quantified.

Whether or not there is a view-through effect is not the question. We know the effect exists. To what extent it drives sales is the question. In the absence of a definitive answer, marketers have concentrated on click-thru rates and click-based conversions when it comes to evaluating the return on their online advertising dollar. If the view-based conversions could be easily quantified, it could provide media companies with additional revenue opportunities and provide marketers an additional source of data to use for analyzing and justifying payout of possible advertising programs. However, marketers usually launch integrated campaigns using several different media vehicles, making accurate measurement of the view-based effect difficult.

"I was surprised at how clearly we were able to isolate the branding effect of the campaign," said Andy Aranyi, President and Chief Marketing Officer at Entersect. "The Claria program has really helped us optimize our ad spending by helping us qualify the real return of our online advertising."

Advertising in a Vacuum

But what if a marketer were to launch a new product offering by using only a single online ad vehicle? Clearly, it would allow the advertiser to understand the impact of both the creative and the ad vehicle on awareness and purchase intent. But more importantly, by isolating the ad vehicle, the advertiser could accurately quantify the view-based effect of an ad. In fact, it would even provide data to help understand the value of advertising over time.

That's exactly what Entersect Corp. did during the first quarter of 2003 with its new Locate America product. It advertised exclusively with Claria Corporation's GAIN Network for the launch of the product. Since the product was brand new and had never been advertised before, all sales could be attributed directly to the Claria ad campaign.


Locate America is a new online background search product which was launched in January, 2003. At that time, with no advertising or promotion of any kind, it had no consumer awareness, no established price point and no advertising effectiveness track record. With the launch of Locate America, Entersect needed to have several questions answered, including whether or not online behavioral marketing can generate sales efficiently.

Entersect chose Claria as their first media partner because of its ability to target online users by behavior. Users of Claria products have granted permission for Claria to display targeted advertising to them through the GAIN Network based on their online surfing habits, so advertisers can reach users who display a specific behavior at any time. In Entersect's case, the target group was users who viewed other online background search sites.

The Test

Entersect ran a variety of creative executions through the GAIN Network, using both Browser Pop-unders (pop-unders which displayed the actual Locate America Web page), and GAIN Network Sliders (ads that "slide" out from the lower corner of a user's browser window). The ads offered users a preliminary search, which prompted them to search for a name in Locate America's vast databases. These preliminary searches would return the name of the person, their location and their age. If users wanted more information on the person, they could then purchase a more detailed report.


The Claria campaigns recorded significant view-through numbers. More than half of the Locate America completed sales that came as the result of ads displayed during the test period were view-based sales.

Within a 45-day window from the day the campaign was first deployed, more sales resulted from view-through conversions than from those who initially clicked and responded to the ad:

Preliminary - 329

Searches Completed - 936

Sales Conversion - 2,948

Rate Conversion - 0.894%


Preliminary - 226

Searches Completed - ,902

Sales Conversion - 3,127

Rate Conversion - 1.378%

Success Increase +54%

Total 556, 838, 6,075 ,1.091%

Furthermore, the view-through traffic was better qualified, as it was 54 percent more likely to result in a completed sale than traffic resulting from ad clicks. From Entersect's standpoint, tracking view-through data allowed them to see that their campaign generated more than twice the number of sales that they might have otherwise thought, had they tracked only sales resulting from ad clicks.

This test definitively shows that less than half the value of an online advertising campaign comes from ad clicks. Once prospects are exposed to the ad message, they may return at a later date, based on their awareness of the product offering.

"I was surprised at how clearly we were able to isolate the branding effect of the campaign," said Andy Aranyi, president and chief marketing officer at Entersect. "The Claria program has really helped us optimize our ad spending by helping us quantify the real return of our online advertising."

The Verdict

Online advertising can have a significant branding effect, even when the ads aren't clicked. As evidenced by the overall view-through percentage of 1.38%, interested consumers do take notice of advertised brands and visit their websites later, at their own convenience. Sales based on clicks are only a fraction of the total picture of online advertising's effectiveness. The branding effect of properly targeted advertising can drive as many sales as the direct response attributes that prompt immediate action. It is important to complete the picture by tracking view-through data and pooling this information with click-through data. Advertisers who track view-through data often find that their highest-clicking ad isn't necessarily their best-converting ad. Click-through rate tells only a part of the story.

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