Could GDPR Lead to a Rise in Contextual Ads?

With the release of iOS 11 and GDPR, marketers and digital publishers alike have had to weather challenges to the way they have bought and sold ad inventory.

Marketers lost – or at least had their ability hindered –the ability to target their intended audience based on user data that was collected via cookies. Publishers, in turn, saw the value of their inventory decrease, as marketers couldn’t guarantee whether the target audience was seeing their ads or not. Now that cookie-based data collection is more restricted, it makes boosting ROI for marketers and inventory value for publishers more difficult, since both parties have diminishing contextual and behavioral information about their visitors.

With the current trend in the digital publishing ecosystem, could a resurgence in contextual advertising be on the cards?

What is contextual advertising?

Contextual advertising is the placement of ad campaigns on websites or site pages that are directly relevant to the ad you’re running. Those of us who read blogs or browse online have gotten used to these ads, which feature products directly related to the content of the blog or site.

It is a great targeting technique. Advertisers use it when they want to ensure that their banner ads are being seen by an applicable audience. The idea is that people who are interested in baking are more likely to want a KitchenAid than someone on a car remodeling site. A more interested audience usually means better click-through rates and more conversions, so contextual advertising is a great way to improve the performance of your display ads.

Why is contextual advertising valuable?

Contextual ads don’t rely on cookie-based data collection and targeting. It simply relies on the content a publisher produces and the context of that content. The value of publishers’ ad inventory can then increase because it allows publishers to target their intended audience based on the content-matter and consequently, increase their ROI.

For the example we used above, if you’re advertising kitchen appliances, buying inventory on a cooking site would lead to enhanced ROI. In a fast-moving and always shifting ecosystem, we feel that this technique will pick up steam and alleviate the losses incurred from non-acceptance for GDPR consent and iOS 11’s removal of cookie tracking.


The landscape of mobile marketing has become increasingly helter-skelter with so many structural changes being compulsory due to changing laws and attitudes. And although audience data can tell you a lot about an individual, a push towards contextual creates relevant creative that is only enhanced by the environment they are placed in. Utilizing contextual ads could help to stabilize the monetization of publishing sites until the dust settles.

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