6 back-to-school shopping audiences and how to successfully reach them with context

July 9, 2019 | 5 minute read
Kori Wallace
Content Manager
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Back-to-school is one of the busiest retail seasons of the year, which means it’s an equally busy time for marketers. Cutting through the noise and reaching the right buyers takes strategic thinking, fresh ideas, and new tactics.

Contextual advertising—targeting campaigns based on the page content—affords brands a unique and effective avenue to get in front of back-to-school shoppers as they search for the content that interests them most.

In digital advertising, context is used in various forms on both the demand and sell side of the industry. For example, brands and agencies use context to help with brand safety or as a targeting tool for their campaigns. On the other hand, publishers use context to help identify what their highest-value ad inventory is by pinpointing which types of content are resonating most with audiences.

The truth is, context has many applications across the advertising industry, especially in the era of increased consumer data protection. This is why we use the term “Contextual Intelligence” when we talk about contextual advertising. And with all the information and insight that comes with Contextual Intelligence, it might be the fresh approach you need to deliver successful back-to-school campaigns this season.

In this post, we’ll share how you can combine Contextual Intelligence and content interests to deliver more effective campaigns that reach the right people in high-impact environments.

First, what is Contextual Intelligence?

Contextual Intelligence refers to the insights and information made available through analyzing content and how people interact with it. When we analyze the content that individuals are interacting with at any given moment, we discover a vast amount of insights about those people and how we might engage them via advertising.

Using Contextual Intelligence, we can understand where our ads are going to be most effective, the types of content that our target audience is interested in, and what trending content is relevant to our campaign for us to focus on.

This year, to ring in the backpack-buying season, we’ve combined Oracle Data Cloud’s trusted audience insights with the industry’s leading Contextual Intelligence, unveiling a robust list of content trends for key back-to-school shopping personas.

The 6 back-to-school shopping audiences

So who are these back-to-school shopping personas? Pulled from proven, quality sources, we identified 6 common types:

  • Millennial Moms

  • Moms with Young Kids (under 12)

  • Moms with Teens

  • Deal Seekers

  • College Students

  • Affluent Families

These audiences are either specific to back-to-school or were overlaid with back-to-school segments to ensure detailed relevancy.

Reaching back-to-school audiences with context

Now that we know who we’re zeroing in on, what sort of online content is each persona interacting with the most? Marrying the audience data with the contextual data provides a powerful view into these insights, allowing marketers to tweak and customize their messaging, as well as strategize what environments they’re targeting for their ads.

For each persona, we’ve included contextual segments to target to best reach the audience, as well as a list of custom segment keyword suggestions.

Creating custom segments from trending terms is one of the most powerful ways to use Contextual Intelligence. By identifying trending contexts and content, brands can find where their audience is most engaged and which content is holding their attention. This delivers new inventory that would not have been available in the campaign if context wasn’t used.

Let's dive into the data ...


Millennial Moms

Suggested contextual segments*

  • Food_diet

  • Fashion_women

  • Fashion_jewelry

  • Health_exercise

Suggested custom keywords

  • Health: Cannabis Health, Health Advice, Health Benefits, Natural Health

  • Nutrition: Calories Tracker, Carbs, Diet, Nutrition Advice

  • Fashion: Designer, Latest Fashion Week Coverage, London Fashion Week, Photos, Reviews

  • Deals: Coupons, Discounts, Costco, CVS, Promo Codes

  • Gifts: Best Gifts, Teacher Gifts, Gifts Amazon, Teacher Appreciation Gift


Moms with Young Kids

Suggested contextual segments*

  • Sport_baseball

  • Sport_basketball

  • Tech_cameras

  • Education_misc

Suggested custom keywords

  • Sports: Baseball Moms Survival, Dick’s Sports, Tomboy Teen

  • Tech Products: School Checklist, Alexa, Cool Tech Gadgets, Headphones

  • Education: Attracting Students, Classroom Management, Education Discounts, Fun School Lunch, School Lesson

  • Promotions: Colored Pencil, Outfits, Offers, School Promotion


Moms with Teens

Suggested contextual segments*

  • Finance_pensions

  • Sport_golf

  • News

  • Entertain_comedy

  • Entertain_books

  • Entertain_radio

Suggested custom keywords

  • Tech: Nintendo, Phones, Technology Glued Teenagers

  • Entertainment: Celebrity, Celebrity Style, Entertainment News Headlines, Exclusive Celebrity Interviews, Hollywood Gossip

  • Finance: Bloomberg, Fortune, Money, MarketWatch, Stock


Deal Seekers

Suggested contextual segments*

  • Entertain_games

  • Entertain_celeb

  • Entertain_perfarts


Suggested custom keywords

  • Tech: Nintendo, Phones, Technology Glued Teenagers

  • Entertainment: Celebrity, Celebrity Style, Entertainment News Headlines, Exclusive Celebrity Interviews, Hollywood Gossip

  • Finance: Bloomberg, Fortune, Money, MarketWatch, Stock


College Students

Suggested contextual segments*

  • Education_university

  • Sports_athletics

  • Education

  • Society_LGBT

  • Entertain_books


Suggested custom keywords

  • Games: PlayStation, PC Version, Nintendo, GameStop, ING, Gamers

  • Rewards: Classroom Supplies, Delivery, School Checklist, School Sale Mama Cheap, School Supplies Shop


Affluent Families

Suggested contextual segments*

  • Travel_business

  • News

  • Society_charity

Suggested custom keywords

  • Travel: Delta, Hotels, Beaches, Croatia, Elite Travel

  • Business: Business Goals, Financial, Corporate, Startup, Small Business Owner

  • Charity: Advocacy, Charity Navigator, Charity Partnership, Donations, Foundation

  • Politics: Politics Messageboard, Political Affairs, Current Affairs, Political News


Beat the back-to-school bell

It’s not too late to get in front of back-to-school shoppers! Looking at overall back-to-school content engagement in 2018, interest didn’t spike until the week of August 30 and lasted well into October. This tells us that parents are shopping for back-to-school items well into the school year—giving you many opportunities to target late-season shoppers.

Try to pace your campaign to align with when content engagement is highest, as this is when the most people are searching for back-to-school content.

It’s time to sharpen your pencils and your targeting strategies by applying Contextual Intelligence to your back-to-school campaigns this year.

If you’re looking for more information about Oracle Data Cloud’s contextual capabilities, download our brand safety guide.


* Contextual segments are listed under Grapeshot or GS_predicts in your chosen DSP. Ask your Oracle representative if you need help finding them.

Kori Wallace

Content Manager

Kori Hill Wallace is a content specialist for Oracle Data Cloud. She loves appetizers, animals, athletics, and alliteration. (She what she did there?) 

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