Contextual advertising examples are everywhere on today's web. Today, the contextual advertising industry generates over $5 billion in spending from companies worldwide every year. But what is contextual advertising, and does it really work the way it's supposed to? Can law firms use it? What is contextual advertising going to look like in 5 years, and how should you be prepared? Keep reading to find out.
What is Contextual Advertising, Part 1: The Basics
When internet advertising started, it was very primitive. Websites fifteen years ago or more were often sparsely populated with ads, and the ads they had were often sold as static ads, staying the same no matter how many times a customer visited. No real contextual advertising examples existed on the early web.
As advertising on the internet got more sophisticated and ad networks started to evolve, the first answers to the question “what is contextual advertising” began to surface. A few clever internet companies realized that what people were reading right now had an influence on what they wanted to buy. They began to test conceptual marketing examples. To advertisers' delight, contextual advertising worked to get better conversion rates and more engaged customers.
Soon, contextual advertising examples were everywhere. Have you ever shopped on Amazon.com? What is contextual advertising there? The answer: most of what you see. Not only are there contextual advertising examples that lead you off-site to related products, but Amazon also shows you contextual advertising for other products on its own site.
What is Contextual Advertising, Part 2: The Nitty Gritty
Okay, so how does contextual advertising work? What is contextual advertising actually doing to figure out where each ad should be placed?
Here's what happens: every hour of every day, search engine “spiders” are tracking the content contained on websites for contextual advertising purposes. The same kinds of spiders that index your website on major search engines can also determine which keywords are on which pages of a website, and target ads based on those keywords appearing in a website.
All the contextual advertising examples you can see online are the simple result of keyword detection algorithms. Several major search engines (Google was first and is still the gold standard) make contextual advertising easy. Within just a few days, you can move from asking “what is contextual advertising?” to making your own using AdSense or other tools.
What is Contextual Advertising Good For?
Let's say that your law firm specializes in divorces. You have a few different ways that you could advertise your website that don't use contextual advertising. You could, for example, run a banner ad with a photo of your attorneys on a website (perhaps one that you feel markets to the right demographics).
You may get some results. But not everyone seeing that advertisement is going through a divorce or even considering it. Now, let's think through contextual advertising examples for the same firm. You could, for instance, put contextual advertising up on advice websites. Whenever someone searched for a divorce related keyword on that website, you could use your contextual advertising. Alternately, you could use search engine sponsored results (another answer to “what is contextual advertising”) to advertise to people searching for your keywords.
You see the difference in targeting with conceptual advertising examples. Odds are, if someone is searching for divorce related topics or asking for advice about an impending divorce online, they're more likely to click contextual advertising for a divorce attorney.
Note that in these contextual advertising examples, we're just talking about a field of practice. Remember that contextual advertising can get significantly more sophisticated. You can use negative keywords and geolocation terms to help you target exactly who you want, while leaving out customers who may not have a use for your legal services.
What is a Contextual Advertising Mishap?
You may have already seen a “contextual advertising fail” somewhere online—a wrinkle cream that advertised that it “melts wrinkles away” under a news photo of a burn victim, or cruises being advertised next to a story about cruise accidents. Not all contextual advertising examples are positive ones. You need to make sure that you're using enough negative keywords to keep your ad from appearing in potentially embarrassing or offensive places.
For instance, the same divorce attorney from the contextual advertising examples above could make a big mistake by forgetting to use negative keywords—what if your contextual advertising appears in a news story about a gruesome murder committed by a divorce attorney? You need to think hard about what kinds of associations would be embarrassing.
If you do make a mistake with contextual advertising, your ad may be included in lists of failed contextual advertising examples. This isn't the end of the world, but those are lists that your firm should avoid being on if at all possible. Keep a strong stock of negative keywords and keep your advertising tightly controlled.
What is Contextual Advertising Going to Be Like in the Future?
So your law firm has had contextual advertising examples appearing in web pages all over the internet, but what's the next new frontier? You might be surprised. Patents have recently been filed for starting to distribute contextual advertising in e-books.
With e-books becoming more popular than traditional paper books in some areas already (and more will undoubtedly follow suit), imagine the possibilities for your law firm. You could make your contextual advertising examples appear in fiction and non-fiction books about relevant topics.
Contextual advertising is already moving onto mobile devices, but this trend can be expected to speed up as unprecedented numbers of Americans get rid of their old cell phones in favor of new smart phone technology.
If you're planning to use mobile contextual advertising, you should make sure that you're directing visitors from mobile devices to specifically designed, mobile friendly landing pages and a mobile version of your main website. Even the best contextual advertising examples can't bring in customers if they're taking them to a website they can't even read.