Top 5 contextual targeting tactics: functional alignment

November 27, 2023 | 3 minute read
Tim Carr
Head of Marketing, Oracle Advertising
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In a recent blog post, The art and science of crafting a comprehensive targeting plan, we introduced the notion that audience targeting in digital advertising skews towards the science end of the practice. In contrast, contextual targeting leans more towards the art of marketing. It requires thoughtful creativity to deeply understand your customer and connect their interests, motivations, and mindsets to the types of content they would likely engage with.  

Today, we will delve more deeply into the foundation of a comprehensive contextual plan and our first targeting use case: functionally aligned targeting. This context strategy is essential as it aligns content a customer might consume right before or while using your product or service.

Functional context helps your ads appear against relevant "How to" and "Why" content, anonymously targeting consumers with clear interest and purchase intent. These phrases are often part of a brand's always-on paid search campaigns and can be activated similarly through context. However, rather than trying to intercept and redirect someone seeking a particular type of article or video, you can place your ads directly in or adjacent to the content they were looking for.   

When deployed close to the point of purchase, functional contextual targeting acts as a lower funnel targeting tactic; however, it can also be leveraged mid-funnel to stay top of mind in frequently purchased categories or even further up the funnel to build awareness.

Let's dive into a few examples across a variety of industries to help bring these concepts to life:

Consumer Packaged Goods

In CPG, individuals looking at recipe content to bake pizzas at home could likely be in the market for 00 flour, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, or veggies. Those researching how to bring down a fever at 3 am may be receptive to children's medications, while someone reading fashion tips about natural beauty treatments could be ready to purchase your new organic cosmetic line. Utilizing Oracle Contextual Intelligence, advertisers can choose from over 700 syndicated segments (many appropriate for CPG), or build bespoke custom segments to find niche content specific to your brand, creative, or campaign.


Continuing with the example above, the parent researching what to do about high fevers at 3 am would likely want to know about the 24-drug store down the street. Home improvement stores may want to target "how to" content or home maintenance tips with relevant tools or appliances. As an upper funnel tactic, apparel retailers may be interested in advertising around celebrity styles. Using the IAB 3.0 taxonomy, Oracle offers more than 40 segments for fashion alone, and can be found in our segment guide.


With long purchase cycles and more research taking place online before ever stepping foot into a dealer to test drive, contextual targeting allows advertisers to place their messages and branding early in the journey. For example, surrounding content related to electric vehicles and fuel economy as an upper funnel tactic, or closer to the point of purchase, you can engage with content around the latest vehicle SUV safety reviews.

Travel and Hospitality

Another category that often involves significant planning, researching, and inspiration are the travel and hospitality industries. You can target consumers early in research, such as "an easy place to vacation with young children," or consumers who have refined their vacation plans, such as "best 4-star hotel in Nashville." Utilizing IAB 3.0 taxonomy, Oracle has created many syndicated travel segments by destination, mode of transport, reasons for travel, and more. 

For more help crafting your contextual targeting plan, please contact your Oracle Advertising account management team, or you can request a consultation to learn more.


For more blogs in this series, please see below:

The art and science of crafting a comprehensive targeting plan

Top 5 contextual targeting tactics – part two: point of market entry

Top 5 contextual targeting tactics – part three: seasonal alignment 

Top 5 contextual targeting tactics – part four: persona-driven alignment

Top 5 contextual targeting tactics – part five: purpose-driven alignment (coming soon)


Tim Carr

Head of Marketing, Oracle Advertising

Tim Carr leads marketing for Oracle Advertising’s suite of digital media solutions, including audience targeting, contextual intelligence, data onboarding, ad verification, and attention measurement solutions.  Before joining Oracle, Tim spent 20 years working in the CPG industry, holding various roles in sales, insights, and strategy at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and in shopper analytics and loyalty marketing at IRI and Catalina.

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