Contextual Targeting


Effective targeting is one of the most important aspects in display advertising. 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 campaign.


We have tens of thousands of very specific categories that can be targeted; however, to keep it manageable, we have decided to utilize the standard IAB category list, which consists of 23 top-level categories and approximately 200 categories in total.

How It Works

Whenever an impression comes into the system, the URL of the impression is analyzed. 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.

For example, a page containing a news article that discusses a national election might have the following categorizations attributed to it:

  • Law, Gov’t, & Politics: Politics = 96 (high)
  • Business: Government = 85 (high)
  • Personal Finance: Retirement Planning = 55 (moderate)
  • Real Estate: Buying/Selling Homes = 34 (low)
  • Society: Senior Living = 21 (low)

From the interface, when you choose a category to target, you also choose the relevancy level that you wish the pages to have for that category.

  • A relevancy of strong means that it will match scores above 70
  • A relevancy of moderate means that it will match scores above 40
  • A relevancy of low means that it will match scores above 15

With the use of this data, we know the topics/categories that any URL falls in, before you bid on it. If a page does not meet your criteria, the system will not bid on it.

Language Targeting

The contextual classification engine is also capable of distinguishing the language of any given page. From the “Brand Protection” selection in the Campaign Editor General Tab, you can run your campaign only on pages that meet your language requirements.

Some available languages to target include: English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish.


Since we currently do not offer specific statistics for contextual targeting campaigns, we recommend running campaigns with only one (or a few) contextual category targets. The reason is to isolate which contextual categories are working and which are not. So for easier optimization, make a new campaign for each contextual category you plan to target, or, group similar contextual categories together. (e.g., Automotive::Performance Vehicles, Automotive::Vintage Cars and Automotive::Car Culture could all be grouped into a single campaign as they all relate to automotive enthusiasts.)

Best Practices

When running a campaign 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 different 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.

If you choose to run your contextual campaigns “Run of Network”, understand that the totals for your “Impressions Bid” column might not reflect the actual numbers, and that if you find that you’re lacking traffic volume, raising your bid will actually add more traffic sources to your campaign.