CANNES — What’s old is new – but that doesn’t mean things should stay the same.

In advertising, no-one used to call the manual practice of finding inventory-content adjacencies “contextual targeting”. But, in the wake of challenges to people targeting techniques, the technique has been rebooted for digital.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Marla Kaplowitz, president and CEO of the 4As, provides some context on, well, context.

Deeper with context

“It’s a bit ‘back to the future’,” Kaplowitz says.

“When I think back to my early days as a media planner, we didn’t have all the data signals and we had to focus more on demographics and context in order to reach the individuals that we wanted.

“Now we have such more discreet audiences and we have a deep understanding of them.”

Interests provide signals

Many ad-tech software suites have emerged which analyze the inner meaning of articles and videos adjacent to ad inventory space.

That is a change, perhaps even a backward step, from the practice which had grown over the last decade – targeting users, no matter what content they are consuming.

News Content Engages Audiences With Contextual Ads: Washington Post’s Joy Robins

For Kaplowitz, it’s about “aggregating people around their interests” – and that matters because, while people change, their content consumption can give away their state of mind.

“People’s interests change over time,” she says. “One day you’re focusing on someone, it’s about news and the next day it’s about pottery. It could be the same individual, but it’s about ‘what is the message you’re trying to reach?’

“We know with many different research studies that that environment has an impact on the ultimate impression and engagement that a consumer has.

“When there are negative environments, it has a negative effect and you’ll see agencies push very hard to get make-goods or to address those situations.”

You are watching “Contextual Advertising Emerging: Now Key in Driving Performance”, a Beet.TV Leadership Summit at Cannes Lions 2022, presented by Integral Ad Science. For more videos from this series, please visit this page. Beet.TV is an official partner of Cannes Lions.