10 Dec 2014

Contextual Advertising: What Is It and Why?

Contextual Advertising, as a phrase, sounds so sophisticated, doesn’t it? Throw that one around in a couple of meetings and it sounds like you, as the marketing manager, know what you are talking about and expert in all things advertising. First, let’s jump into some resources that you can use, to get started with contextual advertising:


Infolinks is the epitome of contextual advertising.

Contextual Advertising:  Infolinks

Contextual Advertising: Infolinks Example

Infolinks is a creative look at contextual advertising, allowing elegant solutions that are less advertising-like and more natural. An example is a pop-up that would provide more information on a specific word (shown above). This allows the reader to click on the infolink and learn more about that topic, expanding their knowledge (while making you money, as the site owner).

The beauty of Infolinks and BuySellAds (described below) is that you could use them together, really maximizing the potential for making extra money on the site.

Google Adsense

Google adsense, the one that many of us cut our teeth on, offers the ability to choose the type of ads that you want displayed. It is a great tool to get started and to understand the process. But, it is not the only game in town.


BuySellAds.com provides the ability to offer up certain ad spaces on the site and the advertiser can “purchase” those ad spots, similar to the newspaper idea where different ad spots have different price tags. In the same way, traffic, like newspaper circulation, is a factor. For BuySellAds.com, the publisher/site owner lists the advertising inventory. The contextual advertising part is where you decide whether or not you will accept an advertiser, based on the relevancy to your site. It is not automatic in the same way that Google Adsense and Infolinks are, but it is related. You can think of BuySellAds as a sort of advertising brokerage firm.

Wikipedia has a whole list of contextual advertising networks, including the now-defunct Yahoo Network.

Still Wondering What Contextual Advertising Is?

According to the ever-popular Wikipedia, contextual advertising is “a form of targeted advertising for advertisements appearing on websites or other media, such as content displayed in mobile browsers. The advertisements themselves are selected and served by automated systems based on the content displayed to the user.”

Contextual Advertising

Contextual Advertising

Let me give you a real time example… Just this week, I was met with my own example of contextual advertising. I was visiting different sites and kept seeing my own smiling face smiling back at me. You see, because I enjoy Jazz music, the contextual advertising algorithms on the advertising networks kept displaying advertisements for me, Deborah E. Now, if I lured you into clicking on that link, you will likely see the same thing when you visit sites that use contextual advertising, because your browser activity indicates that you have an interest.

This is why, if you are using a particular online software, say, Zoho, Mavenlink, Teamwork, you will see their ads pop up while you are reading your favorite blog. It recognizes the interest because you have visited and it serves up those ads through the network, which impacts several different sites.

Have you ever visited a site, especially on those one-off visits for a contest or something and then, for the next hour or so you see their ads everywhere where you surf? There you have it. Contextual advertising at work.

Why Do I Want Contextual Advertising?

The key is relevancy.

As a user, you want to see ads that appeal to you and to your interests.

As a business, you want to serve up ads that appeal to your visitors. You may not want to serve up an ad that is from your competitor, but something that is relevant to your visitor and related to your product or service.

If your product or service is social media marketing, you wouldn’t want to have a picture of an elephant on your site, for no reason. Unless.. you want people to be asking themselves why you have that elephant on your site (and click to a landing page for something), or the elephant is the mascot for your company. Otherwise, random pictures of objects and animals may not have anything to do with the product of social media marketing.

Ok, I take that back, cute kitty pictures do well on social media, so maybe…

Keep that Bottom Line in Mind At All Times

Unless you are giving away stuff for goodwill, you are likely interested in making money. So, keep that bottom line in mind. After you have ensured that your site is monetized and that you have your sales funnel, then ensure that the advertising that shows up on your site is relevant. Many contextual advertising sites provide opportunities to go through and select what you want displayed on your site, even, in some cases, the actual advertiser.

Remember, choose complimentary advertisers, but not competing. So, for my video marketing services, I display video equipment ads, but not other video marketing services or production services.

Contextual Advertising Brainstorming

Contextual Advertising Brainstorming

Oldies, but Goodies, Referencing Contextual Advertising

Want some oldies but goodies? It may give you “context” for the “contextual marketing.” Here on the Internet Marketing Ninjas blog, we have discussed contextual advertising in these articles:

Now What?

While it may have been true that you could make millions of dollars with contextual advertising, “back in the day,” it is still a viable option, even today. Why not consider adding it as one of the income streams for your business? It may just pay enough for the morning coffee at Starbucks. 😉



Leave a Reply