Contextual targeting allows advertisers to only place their ads on pages that meet their topical criteria. For example, advertisers can choose to have their ads served only on pages that match chosen topical categories such as Real Estate::Buying/Selling Homes or Fashion::Accessories, depending on the subject matter and target demographic of their tactic.

How It Works

Third-party providers (like Peer39, comScore, and GrapeShot) analyze the content of URLs whenever an impression comes into the system. Once the content of the URL is evaluated, it returns with several categorizations, along with a number that indicates the relevancy score of each attributed category. Using this data,the DSP knows the topics/categories that any URL falls into, before bidding on it.

If a page does not meet your tactic's criteria, the system will not bid on it.

Using Contextual Targeting in Your Tactic

To enable contextual targeting, add segments from one of the third-party providers in the list and set up the rules for that segment. Or choose a set of segments and rules.

Targeting Categories

Choose the categories for the pages you want the tactic to run on and set the segment to Target. (This is the default.)

For example, this tactic would bid on impressions on URLs that are categorized as Law, Government, & Politics, as well as URLs that are categorized as News:

Hidden and Unavailable Contextual Segments

Sometimes third-party providers retire segments that have been previously available. When this happens, the segment will usually become hidden before it becomes unavailable in the system:

  • Hidden segments are destined for retirement, but are still operating at the moment. These segments will not appear in the list of segments, but tactics that had previously selected these segments will continue to target them.
  • Unavailable segments have already been retired. They do not appear in the list of contextual segments and tactics cannot target them.

If you edit a tactic that contains a hidden or unavailable segment, you'll see an error message on the Contextual page.

You cannot save changes to a tactic that targets an unavailable segment.

Contextual Sets

When you've arranged your segments and logic in a way that you might want to use again, you can save them as a set. A set includes:

  • one or more contextual segments
  • target/exclude rules
  • AND/OR targeting relationship between the segment rules

You can use a set in as many tactics as you like.

If you apply a set to an existing tactic, the set overwrites all previously existing segments.

See Audience, Location, and Segment Sets for details.

Best Practices

When running a tactic with contextual targeting, we highly recommend that you choose “Run of Network” or a high volume of general sites. The real power of contextual targeting lies in the ability to find targeted pages on sites with a variety of subject matter. In other words, targeting automotive categories on (for example) would be redundant. Targeting more general sites, like news outlets, forums, or blogs, is where you have the best chances of finding relevant pages: in a larger pool of general content.

Running tactics with only one (or a few) contextual category targets helps you isolate which contextual categories are working and which are not. For easier optimization, make a new tactic for each contextual category you plan to target, or group similar contextual categories together. (For example, Automotive::Performance Vehicles, Automotive::Vintage Cars and Automotive::Car Culture could all be grouped into a single tactic as they all relate to automotive enthusiasts.)

Brand Protection

Brand protection is a special type of contextual targeting that shows your ad on sites that don't contain certain types of content.