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Contextual Ads Need Contextual Content

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Contextual advertising

Contextual advertising from Google AdSense will deliver high CPMs and click-through rates if they appear with content that provides the right context.

What are contextual advertising banners? They are ads whose subject matter is determined dynamically by the site content that surrounds it.

For example, a contextual ad on a travel site will display travel advertisers. If the ad appears on a page about Caribbean cruises, the ad most likely will display cruise advertisers specifically.

If Google AdSense does not display a cruise ad, it may deliver a remarketing ad. Remarketing ads are ads that promote a site the user has previously visited. They use cookies to track the user as he or she goes from one site to another.

In that sense, the ad is contextual to the person and not the page the person is viewing.

If a contextual ad network such as AdSense cannot deliver a contextual ad or a remarketing ad, it is most likely to deliver low quality ads with low CPMs for the publisher and poor click-through rates.

Contextual Ad Strategy

A solid contextual ad strategy for the publisher is not much different than implementing good search engine optimization.

It does have one twist: the SEO focuses on topics with high advertiser value.

A good example is the travel site with the cruise page above. The page will have solid context for cruise ads if, for example, “western Caribbean cruise” appeared in some of these elements on the page:

  1. Document title
  2. Article headline
  3. Body text (without overdoing it)
  4. Photo file name
  5. Photo alt name
  6. Photo caption
  7. Links to the article (with variations)

The keyword must appear naturally within the article and without trying to manipulate search rankings.

Google contextual ads will now have a clear sense of the page’s content. It will deliver ads that are more relevant to the visitors who come to that page.

Cruise line advertising is more likely to appear on the page. The fact that a single click could result in $1,000 of revenue for the cruise line makes it a high-value page for both the publisher and advertiser.

In contrast, a cruise travel page that uses the word “cruise” but not the phrase “western Caribbean cruise” will have less relevance and context for the visitor, the advertiser and the servers that put ads on the page.

Still, it’s important to keep value in mind. A travel page about bird watching in New Guinea is much less likely to attract advertisers with big budgets. It won’t matter how much the page is optimized for advertising  context.

So concentrate on implementing SEO for the sake of contextual advertising on the site pages most likely to attract valuable advertisers.

Even better, optimizing the pages for advertising also has the benefit of improving the rankings of the articles in search engines. The resulting increase in visitors may lead to even more revenue.

Setting Up Accounts

Contextual ad vendors make it easy for any site to set up an account, create the advertising code and simply paste it on a page or into an advertising server application.

Simply go to the site, create an account and complete the necessary forms.

The vendors typically will allow a site to create any of the standard ad sizes of the Internet Advertising Bureau, including 728 x 90, 160 x 600 and 300 x 250. The revenue share is usually based on the cost per click model.

An ad server such as Google DPF can track the impression levels and probably the click-through rates on the ads. But more importantly it can track impressions, clickthroughs and revenue performance on a daily basis and sometimes on demand.

The click-through rates and revenue per click depend on the subject matter of the surrounding content. Highly generalized content such as news will have a lower clickthrough rate — at times well under 1% — and lower revenue per click.

Travel, health, technology and personal finance will be much higher, with click-through rates sometimes exceeding 5%. Geographically targeted content also commands high click and revenue rates.

It benefits a site’s advertising results to build content that targets such high quality niches.

Contextual advertising for even generalized content often exceeds the CPM rates of national remnant campaigns.

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