Contextual Targeting : Friend or Foe for Publishers?

Published on 13 Apr 2022

With the phasing-out of third-party cookies, contextual targeting has found itself at centre stage. This technology is based on the immediate interests of users and seeks to be more mindful of user data without compromising advertisement performance. Not everyone is sure about it, though. As a new age of digital advertisement dawns, publishers are feeling threatened by this new technology. What should they do to prepare for the rise of contextual targeting?


Contextual advertisement is the focus of many debates. It was recently claimed in the UK that AdTech selling contextual advertisement had been unlawfully using data. Publishers are worried: they create digital content and feel that players in contextual advertisement are using this content to target specific audiences without their consent. The issue of intellectual property thus arises. This technology is revolutionising the world of paid advertisement. It reads articles in the same way as a user in order to pick out meaning, and therefore by definition does not reuse or sell them. This targeting method is therefore perfectly integrated into the broadcasting context of a site host.

The idea behind contextual targeting was never to claim ownership of the content created by publishers, but rather to enrich it and to bring added value to the content. It therefore goes without saying that hosts retain 100% ownership of their content.

As the bell tolls for user data, contextual targeting is stepping up to be a win-win solution for both AdTech and publishers. Given the reduction in consent rates and the phasing-out of third-party cookies, more than half of existing content is no longer or only poorly monetised, therefore becoming obsolete. The technology behind contextual targeting can breathe new life into this content. It is important to note that contextual advertisement does not rely on a user’s browsing history, but instead just on their immediate interests.


Monetising content is crucial in a post-cookie world to allow users to be shown ads consistent with their interests and the immediate context of their browsing. At the same time, the message of the advertiser is improved, as it is shown to the right person at the right time. It is essential that the content comes from the publishers themselves, as this is their added value. The value of a contextual player, on the other hand, is to bring a win-win solution to both publishers and advertisers. We bring added value to the content consumed by internet users and thereby directly increase revenue for publishers. Contextual advertisement is therefore designed to help publishers, not harm them. At present, there is no appropriation of content or URLs with or without consent. The purpose is simply to categorise the content published by the publishers with a view to achieving targeted advertisement without personal data. This technique strengthens the reach of published content which would otherwise lose all value without user data. Through semantic data, CPM can be multiplied three-, four-, or even five-fold. This is why most publishers in France are on board with this technique. However, the added value of this technology and its objective of remaining a win-win model still need to be further demonstrated.

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Geoffrey Berthon
CEO & Founder @Qwarry