Upgrade your ad targeting toolkit: 3 takeaways from Oracle’s contextual solutions webinar

February 7, 2022 | 4 minute read
Elizabeth Shaheen
Senior Product Strategist, CPQ and Subscription Management, Oracle Advertising and CX
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Oracle’s own Marc Grabowski, GVP of Global Advertising Sales, recently invited Charles Ping, Managing Director of Winterberry Group, and Chris Swarbrick, Managing Partner, Ad Tech Strategy and Coordination at Omnicom Media Group, to join him for a webinar on contextual ad targeting. The three advertising veterans discussed major shifts happening across the adtech industry and offered key insights into how contextual intelligence solutions can be leveraged to improve ad targeting strategies.  

The webinar comes at a critical time for marketers as we move into this new era of adtech. The loss of third-party cookies combined with consumer privacy legislation and the proliferation of media channels has created multiple challenges for brands. In the face of so much disruption, many advertisers are reconsidering the benefits of contextual targeting as they search for new ways to connect with their audience and expand their reach.

In fact, according to a Winterberry Group survey, only 22% of marketers are currently using contextual segments in their ad targeting strategy, but 52% plan to increase their investment in contextual solutions over the next two years. According to Charles, “Once upon a time, contextual targeting was positioned as primarily a brand safety tool, but now can play a much bigger role in your ad targeting strategy.”

We’ve made the recorded webinar available to watch, but here are four primary takeaways:

Takeaway #1: Contextual solutions have dramatically evolved

Today’s contextual targeting technology has significantly improved since advertisers began using contextual solutions, allowing for more nuanced targeting capabilities and layered targeting approaches.

Contextual targeting isn’t just keyword matching anymore, it has evolved into a more strategic application within an advertiser’s toolbox. But many advertisers still don’t take advantage of its full capabilities. As Marc made clear during the webinar, “Advertisers think about contextual as blocking content rather than using it as an effective tactic in their media mix, helping them get in front of prospective customers and clients.”

Contextual targeting solutions are now equipped to perform asset-level analysis, evaluating different page sections to determine subject matter and sentiment. Another key advancement: the ability to analyze image and audio content within video and TV/CTV environments.

Innovation in contextual targeting technology has allowed advertisers to create a more holistic targeting approach, layering data sources and tactics to build an integrated targeting strategy.

Takeaway 2: First-party data isn’t the only way forward in a cookie-free world

For years, marketers have been told that building your first-party data is critical to success in a cookie-less world.  While that guidance remains true, first-party data has one critical weakness: scale. 

Advertisers require adtech tools that enable them to scale their ad targeting efforts, increasing their reach and audience size. Contextual targeting is a great complement to an integrated targeting strategy, ensuring marketers achieve scale while maintaining privacy-first targeting tactics. 

Many advertisers have already experienced measurable gains by combining first-party and third-party data sets with contextual solutions as a seed to model contextual profiles.  Charles described this concept as “augmenting” contextual segments with third-party and first-party data signals.

Takeaway #3: Approach your test-and-learn strategy like an investment portfolio

As the Managing Partner, AdTech Strategy and Coordination at Omnicom Media Group, Chris is often asked by clients how they should approach a test-and-learn strategy when refining their ad targeting tactics. He recommends advertisers think about it in the same way you would approach managing an investment portfolio: consider your risk tolerance in relation to your media budget, track your results as you test new targeting tools, and identify the strategies that deliver the strongest results.

An effective test and learn strategy can be summarized in the following steps:  

  • Test and learn: You don’t need to do it all at once. This quarter, pick one upcoming advertising campaign and implement testing and learning strategies to identify which integrative approaches will deliver the best results.
  • Evaluate and invest: Once you have tested various targeting combinations, layering contextual targeting data with first-party and third-party data, compare results against your top-performing targeting strategies. As you re-evaluate your data and media investments moving forward, use the same approach you would use to manage an investment portfolio, combining the methods that generate the highest return on ad spend.
  • Optimize and persist: Apply your learnings by carving out a percentage of your budget to further optimize and expand into more campaigns, objectives, and targeting strategies. Calibrate your risk tolerance, measure, and attribute accordingly to move you closer to a more balanced and privacy-safe portfolio strategy.

Chris emphasized that any test and learn strategy applied to contextual targeting solutions should consider five integral parameters: sentiment, speed, accuracy, categorization, and scale.

While no single solution can meet the industry’s unique needs to reach consumers, a portfolio approach that includes contextual targeting can give marketers new ways to reach the people they care about and in a privacy-safe way.

How Oracle can help you take a portfolio approach when building out your ad targeting strategy

If you haven’t started preparing for the “cookie-less” future, it’s time. Oracle Contextual Intelligence technology gives brands the ability to reach and engage consumers across digital channels, delivering relevant ads at just the right moment in just the right place. Our Standard and Custom Context Segments can be configured and customized based on your business needs, while our proprietary Predicts Segments automatically updates context segments with terms from trending content. Our contextual solutions ensure you are protecting your brand while making every impression count.


Want to learn more about contextual targeting? Watch Marc, Charles, and Chris’ full webinar—it’s a deep dive into contextual solutions as these three ad industry titans share key steps to level up your targeting strategy in 2022.  

If you're ready to learn how to integrate Oracle’s Contextual Intelligence suite into your targeting strategy, give our sales team a call today.


Elizabeth Shaheen

Senior Product Strategist, CPQ and Subscription Management, Oracle Advertising and CX

Elizabeth Shaheen is a senior product strategist for CPQ and subscription management. Her background includes 14 years of brand and product management experience in B2B, B2C, and DTC businesses. Elizabeth has extensive experience in setting strategy, driving execution, and obtaining measurable ROI for marketing and sales initiatives.

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