What is Contextual Advertising. Examples of formats that work today

Every owner of an online business will confirm that it is almost impossible to promote their project without this format. Today this tool, which appeared a little more than 20 years ago, has seriously transformed and improved. We will tell in this publication about which formats are more effective now, and how to plan your work without violating the rules of confidentiality.

What is contextual advertising?

This type of online promotion is based on the fact that the user is shown ad units, the content of which is directly related to the content of the site or its page. For example, a user is searching for airline tickets, while on the right or at the top he is shown advertisements offering to rent a car or book a house. This method is also used by search engines to place ads on their results pages. This is done by matching keywords in the search query with the content of the ad.

We emphasize that the work of the algorithms is configured primarily in accordance with the text content placed on the page, the interests (queries) of the user. By this advertising in networks differs significantly from other types, for example, from the behavioral targeting, which is based on the use of cookies and other techniques.

Advantages and disadvantages of contextual advertising

Its main advantage is the ability to set up a personalized display. Ads are selected using artificial intelligence in accordance with search queries, interests, socio-demographic data of potential customers. High accuracy of selection allows you to deliver the right information to specific groups of people.

Other advantages of this type of advertising for businesses are:

  1. The ability to increase targeted traffic and sales, while not overpaying for promotion. This is real because the advertising network is extremely diverse;
  2. Achievement of various purposes (introduction of a new product to the market, retention of existing clients, etc.);
    easy management of advertising;
  3. the ability to use different formats (videos, banners, text ads).
  4. For users, search engine advertising is also convenient. They become aware of promotions, discounts, the range of advertisers. In addition, a person can compare offers from different online stores and make the best decision.

Although the advantages of contextual advertising are obvious, this method of promotion has its disadvantages:

  • when the allocated advertising budget runs out, site traffic drops dramatically. Mobile application advertising also stops working;
  • the price per click itself is difficult enough to predict, because its calculation depends on many factors;
  • advertising campaigns in the contextual media network requires constant monitoring, both at the launch stage and during the demonstration.

How does contextual advertising work?

With this method of advertising promotion payments are made on the principle of PPC (Pay-per-click), which means that the advertiser will get the money not for display, but for a specific user action – a transition to the site. But running an ad campaign does not guarantee the beginning of the demonstration ads to all interested people.

Selection of ads in advertising systems is based on an auction, which takes place in a fraction of a second in real time. When a user enters a search query or launches a video, the system determines which ad best meets the requirements and which one the advertiser has bid optimally on.

A variety of factors have an impact on the ad impression: the quality of the ad and the page being promoted, the coincidence of the semantics. Of great importance is the CTR rating, which is calculated on the basis of division of the number of hits by the number of impressions. So the likelihood of exposure depends more not on the size of the bid (although it also matters), but on the clickability of the page on the site.

Ways to improve the effectiveness of contextual advertising

Try to initially competently work out the ads. Here are a few practical recommendations:

Draw up a promotion strategy

Determine the goal of the RC. This can be a cost reduction on the conversion, increasing brand awareness, attracting attention to the action, etc.

Define target audience

Draw a portrait of your potential client: gender, age, hobbies, work, place of residence.

Create a USP

Identify the benefits of your product compared with the competition. Make a unique selling proposition that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Pick your keywords

Add phrases that a potential customer can type into the search box.

Proceed with the creation of the ad

Include your UTP and other product benefits.

Set up remarketing

This is needed to bring potential customers back to the site – people who previously came in but didn’t buy anything.

Types of contextual advertising

Let’s consider in detail how contextual advertising looks like, how best to use its varieties.

Thematic advertising

This type of advertising is aimed at showing not in search, but on the thematic sites offered by Google and Yandex. For example, the contextual media network of Google has about 2 million partner sites where ads can be shown. The advantage of thematic advertising is the variability of formats. Specialists are available banners, animations, short video ads, etc.

The effectiveness of this type depends directly on the quality of the sites selected. In the priority resources that have high attendance, suitable for the subject.

Search contextual advertising

These ads the user will see immediately under the search bar and at the bottom of the first page of the output. Maps, directories and other sites can be selected for display. Most often the text format of search ads is used. There are several options for the location of such ads:

  • special placement. It is considered most profitable to place an ad directly under the search bar. The high position gives a greater likelihood of user conversions. A man in a search, in the first place read the first sentence;
  • guaranteed shows. In this case, the ad will be shown in the general block. This position is not as profitable as the previous one, but it will cost you less;
  • dynamic displays. Search ads will also be shown in the block. The main difference is that the probability of showing compared with the previous options is reduced. On the other hand, this is the most budget-friendly way to set up an advertising campaign.

Product ads

These ads attract more consumers because they combine a visual part (photo of the product) with text. In addition, you can embed the name of the seller, information about promotions, discounts, or the cost of goods in this format. Such sales pitches are displayed at the very top of the first search page or on the side.

Display of product ads is configured automatically with the help of feeds, which include:

  • product name;
  • image;
  • price;
  • short description;
  • A unique code (if necessary).

Advertising in networks is connected in the Google Merchant Center. To do this, you need to upload a generated feed file there.

Media advertising

It is used together with search and thematic. The main difference is the ability to present information graphically in the form of banners, animations, short videos. This form of presentation attracts the user and increases trust in the brand, if the visualization is done qualitatively.

The following formats of banners are popular:

  • CatFish. Distinguished by the place of the show – at the bottom of the screen, fills the entire width;
  • PopUnder – a pop-up window that blocks access to the content of the site. If you try to close it, the user will be redirected to the advertised page;
    teasers. Placed at the bottom of the open page, their appearance is accompanied by a characteristic sound;
  • Rich-media. This type of advertising encourages potential customers to interactive interaction. It is appropriate mini-games, short videos, photo collage.

What does the cost of contextual advertising depend on?


Auction in Google Ads is arranged in such a way that the maximum impact on the price of click has the advertisers themselves, who haggle for getting to the prominent places in the ad units.

The numerator is the bid of the competitor positioned behind your ad. The more your competitor is willing to pay, the more you will pay per click. Today it is almost impossible to find a topic that will not have competition in contextual advertising, and the number of advertising spots is often much less than the number of advertisers who want to get at them. Advertising systems show the estimated rates in the interfaces to get to certain positions, or to get the amount of traffic for different keyword phrases, thereby only fueling the desire of the advertiser to put more to get higher.


Maximum competition is in megalopolises. It’s cheaper to advertise in small cities, but you should not expect a large flow of traffic. If you show ads to users from all over the country, the predicted price can be very high.

It’s better to distribute ads in different regions. This will help optimize costs.


Subject itself has no direct influence on the cost per click. The advertising system does not care what you sell. But each theme has its own supply and demand, and therefore – different competition. Therefore it happens that it is cheaper to advertise a product in bulk with a high average receipt than the same product in retail.

Key phrases

Keyword phrases are a way of targeting, with them the advertiser covers the relevant search queries that users enter. All phrases can be segmented into categories:

Commercial or transactional

Phrases with the words to buy, order, wholesale, price. They are the most convertible as they are entered by users who will make a purchase in the near future. This is the most sought-after audience on the Internet, for which all advertisers are fighting. This means that the cost per click on these phrases will be the maximum because of the high competition. Be sure to run search campaigns for commercial phrases, but do not overpay more than you can afford.


Any product or service is created to solve some problem. Accordingly, before you start looking for a particular product, the person must face this problem, he must have a need for what you sell. And if the user doesn’t know about your product, they’re likely to go online first with the question, “How?” “How to clean the washing machine?”, “How to lose excess weight?”. If you’re ready to offer a solution, it’s worth setting up ads for these phrases as well. Competition for them is lower, and therefore the cost per click will be less.

Informational and general

Such queries may not directly relate to your product or service. For example, if you provide a service for individual design of apartments, you may be interested in the query “Ideas for decorating studio apartment 42 sq. m. This is the coldest audience, not looking for a specific product or solution to a problem, but by some triggers in the queries it is clear that we can be useful to her, and she is interested in us. For such phrases the price of a click can be minimal, but the conversion will be appropriate.

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