Can contextualisation solve the adblocking problem?


Have you read the marketing and media press recently without seeing a reference to adblocking? Me neither. There can be no doubt that it’s the current bête noire of the advertising industry (following hard on the heels of the sector’s other ‘problem children’, viewability, brand protection and click fraud). 

And with good reason. Although it’s far from new, the number of people choosing not to see ads on their screens is growing at an astonishing rate. 

The recent report, Worldwide Digital Advertising: 2016-2020 by Juniper Research, estimates that losses due to ad blocking will account for nearly 10% of the total digital advertising market, costing publishers $27bn in lost revenues by 2020.

The adblocking problem

Reasons given by consumers for blocking ads include their being intrusive, and not relevant. Mobile ads have the added disadvantage that they slow down web page loading times and use up precious data allowances.

Solving the ad blocking problem includes trying and testing solutions ranging from educating consumers about ads enabling free content, to publishers refusing ad blocking readers access to articles.

There has also been much naval gazing in the advertising industry. Perhaps we have brought this on ourselves, with too many, poorly-targeted, irrelevant and unimaginative ads?

Smartology believes the situation can be turned round.  We take the approach that there is such a thing as good advertising; branded content that informs the reader and enhances their online experience. 

Content and context: An essential partnership

We have developed bespoke technology that creates weighted semantic content profiles for each item of an advertising client’s branded content as well as for the publisher partners’ editorial pages. 

Understanding both content and context allows branded content to be matched and displayed alongside publisher editorial articles on the same or associated topics.  

The result is an innovative audience targeting solution that creates a relevant ‘add on’ for the reader because the branded content it shows is based on their immediate interests. 

In other words, as audiences become increasingly frustrated with the one-size-fits-all approach to advertising it puts content where it counts.

Presenting content at the right (relevant) time

For example, instead of being interrupted with an ad such as a full-screen takeover that is unrelated to the content they had selected to view, someone reading an article on Japanese bonds would also see on the right-hand side of their screen a piece of branded thought-leadership material on the same topic. 

As audiences become increasingly frustrated with the one-size-fits-all approach to advertising it puts content where it counts.

This differs hugely from the standard approach because the advertising content is based on users’ real-time online activity rather than their previous behaviour or profiles based on third-party data.

Additional benefits include in-depth reporting that ranks each individual content item by reader engagement, providing insightful feedback for content creation teams on the most engaging branded content topics.

Increased ROI on advertising budgets

Brands using platforms such as Smartology see significantly increased ROI on their advertising budgets. A/B testing on a campaign for a financial client showed that engagement with ad impressions served using SmartMatch was over 18 times higher than those using a standard content-led static banner. 

Clearly this is great news for advertisers who, having used significant resource to create quality branded content, know this is being put in front of the right audience at a time when they are most receptive to it because they are already engaged with the subject matter. 

Premium content for media owners

It is also hugely valuable for publishers because it helps them deliver consistently high returns for their commercial partners and therefore charge a premium. 

It also ensures that the content on their site is not only brand-safe, but potentially brand-enhancing because of its high quality. 

Informative content for readers

Meanwhile, the consumer has access to additional material that relates to what they are already reading. 

Very simply, contextual digital advertising delivers intelligent branded content that works for the publisher, advertiser and reader; a win-win-win situation. 

Perhaps our problem child is growing up?

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