How to “weatherize” your brand safety strategy with contextual advertising

April 28, 2021 | 3 minute read
Chris Stark
Senior Director, Product Management, Oracle Advertising
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A version of this article was originally published on The Drum.

Context in advertising works a lot like the weather. There is a seasonality to context that’s unpredictable, fluid, and evolves continuously as new content is published. But many marketers still deploy keyword blocklists as a part of their contextual advertising strategies, either to target specific content or instill brand safety measures.

Using blocklists in 2021 is like wearing a heavy raincoat every day, regardless of the conditions. And in the same way that the weather determines what to wear (and when to change outfits)—brands with a flexible contextual advertising strategy can make targeted changes quickly to maintain brand suitability.

Agility is critical to surviving changing news

What’s required for the modern news cycle is a nimbler approach, one that affords marketers control of their digital investments, and precision when it’s needed most. No blocklist can offer this, no matter how often it’s updated. It simply can’t keep up with the rapidly changing nature of the online news cycle.

This is why true context is so important. Understanding this concept goes beyond scanning pages and blocking the inventory based on the appearance of a single, potentially problematic keyword.

True context, or contextual intelligence, is about understanding the underlying meaning of page content—what the story, news article, blog post, video, or podcast is really focusing on, and making an advertising decision based on that knowledge.

This is important because context changes over time. And using advanced contextual targeting solutions help ensure that marketers aren’t blocking safe content or missing harmful content.

Consider how advertising context changed regarding the global pandemic. COVID-19 represented one of the most blocked keywords by advertisers when the pandemic first hit. Yet, despite this phenomenon, we’ve seen glimpses of how the pandemic’s surrounding context can change.

There’s the news of neighbors helping one another and the growing number of people receiving COVID-19 vaccines, and local economies opening up. These types of stories provide a safe haven for advertising that helps brands and publishers alike.

The consequences of not accounting for nuance

If advertisers stick with their blocklists—which are often outdated and are filled with stale keywords—any change in context won’t matter. The content will still be blocked because of the mere inclusion of keywords.

The downstream effect of this approach could be devastating for news outlets and publishers. After being deprived of much-needed advertising revenue this past year, news outlets and publishers are desperate for the advertising industry to figure out how to monetize their content safely. But if advertisers keep relying on blocklists, there’s no chance of that happening.

Advertisers will only gain the confidence to target today’s news cycles by analyzing and understanding the relationships of terms and phrases collectively on a page.

Digital advertisers are the new meteorologists

If there’s anything we’ve learned as advertisers during this past year, it’s that trying to predict the market is futile. Context, like the weather, is continually evolving. To navigate this dynamic landscape with confidence, modern advertisers work with a context partner to create a brand suitability strategy that meets their specific needs.

Learn more about our Contextual Intelligence solution.



Chris Stark

Senior Director, Product Management, Oracle Advertising

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