Back-to-school in 2020: Context tips for when kids don’t go back to school

July 8, 2020 | 3 minute read
Text Size 100%:

Usually, around this time of year, marketers would be gearing up for a busy summer—planning and setting up campaigns for the upcoming back-to-school months. Traditionally one of the biggest and most lucrative times for marketers, with high consumer spending and fervent interest across a range of product categories, this year’s back-to-school season feels completely different—mostly because it's unlikely students are actually going back to school. 

So how do you approach your back-to-school strategy in 2020? First, understand that most US adults are expecting to spend as much or more this year compared to other years. Only 19 percent of respondents in a recent survey (below) stated that they intended to decrease spending. But while the intention remains, there’s likely confusion surrounding what they need to buy and how they should approach this season compared to previous years.











The next step is rethinking your targeting strategy to account for new contexts that are more relevant due to all the disruptions. Even a subtle tweak to your targeting strategy can end up broadening your reach and identifying audiences in new environments. But where do you start?

Here are five contexts to consider for your contextual strategy; and the associated terms, phrases, and segments to include to ensure they’re a part of your targeting mix.

1. School gear and supplies

Despite the fact that there are lots of question marks about which states will have schools open in the fall, students still need to be equipped for learning—whether this occurs at home or in the classroom.

School supplies terms and phrases to add to your contextual strategy:

  • Preschool 
  • School Supplies 
  • Parenting Supplies 
  • Middle School 
  • Back-to-School Supplies 
  • Mathematics
  • Back-to-School 
  • School Supplies 
  • School Clothes 
  • School Shopping 
  • Windbreaker
  • Lunch Money 
  • Gloves
  • Glue Sticks 
  • Hair 
  • Hand
  • Sanitizer
  • Outerwear


Related contextual segments to consider:

  • gs_education_misc
  • gs_family_children
  • gs_food_misc
  • gs_fashion_misc
  • gs_fashion_women
  • gs_shopping_misc
  • gs_education_misc
  • gs_shopping_misc
  • gs_education_university
  • ecofriendlygreenliving
  • gs_entertain_books


2. Homeschooling tips and resources

The reality for many parents in 2020 is that in addition to their day-to-day parenting duties, they’ve also had to take on the role of educators. As such, there’s a growing need for homeschooling tips and resources. If these contexts are relevant to your campaigns, you can use the terms and segments below to ensure your ads are in the right places.

Homeschooling terms and phrases to add to your contextual strategy:

  • Homeschooling 
  • Teachers 
  • Students
  • Experts 
  • Parents 
  • Schoolwork 
  • High School Guidance 
  • Stay at Home
  • Schoolhouse
  • Homeschooled
  • Tutor


Related contextual segments to consider:

  • gs_education_misc
  • gs_family_children
  • usconquesting_cast
  • gs_education_university


3. Healthy living and wellness tips for parents

Hand-in-hand with juggling parenting, work duties, and educating their kids, parents need to ensure they’re maintaining a healthy lifestyle to prevent burnout and general fatigue. Therefore, the subject of healthy living is a good one to include in your contextual targeting strategy to broaden your audience while hitting on shared interests.

Healthy living terms and phrases to add to your contextual strategy:

  • Summer Vacation 
  • Healthy Parents 
  • Physical Activity 
  • Healthier Eating 
  • Active Health
  • Health
  • Lifestyle 
  • Playtime 
  • Sunflower
  • Canola 
  • Healthy Food 
  • Hiking 
  • Vegetable
  • Nutrients 
  • Routine 
  • Stretch 


Related contextual segments to consider:

  • gs_food_misc
  • gs_health_nutrition
  • gs_health_diet
  • ecofriendlygreenliving
  • gs_health_exercise
  • gs_family_children
  • gs_health_misc
  • gs_food_drink


4. Productivity hacks and tips for managing work and homeschooling

For the overwhelming majority of parents, managing working from home in addition to homeschooling is a completely new situation that’s both daunting and exhausting. Naturally, these parents are interested in content that helps them manage their daily schedules, so you can expect productivity tips and general advice on these topics to increase in popularity.

Terms and phrases about home and work productivity to add to your contextual targeting strategy:

  • Schoolwork 
  • Homeschooling
  • Frustrating
  • Freelancer
  • Learning 
  • Chores 
  • Working from Home
  • Routines 
  • Daily Exercise 
  • Telecommuting 
  • Caregivers
  • Full Responsibilities
  • Balancing 
  • Meal Program


Related contextual segments to consider:

  • gs_covid19
  • gs_business_careers
  • gs_food_misc
  • gs_health_misc
  • gs_home_interiors
  • gs_family_children
  • ecofriendlygreenliving
  • gs_education_misc


5. School lunch ideas

With school cafeterias closed, many parents will need to seek inspiration for their children’s lunches and snacks during the day, so expect to see a lot of content and interest here.

Terms and phrases related to school lunches to add to your contextual targeting strategy:

  • Lunch 
  • Granola 
  • Hummus 
  • Kabobs 
  • Quesadilla
  • Snacks
  • Tomatoes 
  • Fresh 
  • Ham
  • Healthy 
  • Juice
  • Ideas 
  • Tuna
  • Chicken
  • Sandwiches
  • Apple 
  • Homemade 
  • Eggs 
  • Peaches
  • Cauliflower 


Related context segments to consider:

  • gs_food_misc
  • gs_family_children
  • gs_food_drink
  • ecofriendlygreenliving
  • gs_education_misc



Click here to view our complete back-to-school segment buyer's guide.


The availability of the context segments listed in this article depends on the DSP you use. 


Allan Stormon

Previous Post

Test your TV show acumen with this quiz

Jacel Booth | 2 min read

Next Post

Everything you need to know about context-based insights and trends

Allan Stormon | 4 min read