Mobile App Terminology

Contextual targeting

What is contextual targeting?

Contextual targeting, or contextual advertising, refers to the practice of targeting display, video, or text ads based on a website or app’s content. There are several sub-categories of context targeting, including:

  • Contextual keyword targeting: Ads are targeted to websites, pages, and apps that match specific keywords.
  • Semantic targeting: A more advanced type of contextual targeting that uses AI to understand the actual meaning of a page or app, as opposed to just directly matching keywords on the page.

Marketers can also target more manually by advertising in publications that focus on specific topics that are related or relevant to the apps or products they are advertising.

How to measure marketing impact?

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How is contextual targeting used?

After a website has been crawled or the context of the website or app has been determined, this data is then sent to ad networks, which in turn can be used by advertisers for contextual targeting. 

As Google highlights, this is how the process of matching ads to relevant sites works:

Google’s system analyzes the content of each webpage to determine its central theme, which is then matched to your ad using your keywords or topic selections, your language and location targeting, a visitor’s recent browsing history, and other factors.

As you can see, in setting up your ad targeting, contextual ads will use keywords, topics, location, and so on as opposed to individual user behaviors or interests.

Contextual targeting vs. behavioral targeting


Contextual targeting is different than behavioral targeting, which targets ads based on actions people have taken before. Instead of showing ads based on user behavior, contextual targeting works by categorizing websites and pages based on their context and semantics. 

With the introduction of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency behavioral targeting is nearly gone on iOS, which has made contextual targeting even more relevant than before.

As highlighted in our guide on contextual targeting, a few key differences between these two targeting mechanisms include:

  • Behavioral targeting typically requires some kind of tracking mechanism and often has privacy concerns
  • Behavioral targeting is nearly impossible on iOS with ATT
  • Contextual targeting is typically better for broader targeting of larger groups
  • Contextual targeting has fewer privacy concerns

Another key difference that the CEO of Remerge, Pan Katsukis highlights is that contextual ads are significantly cheaper than behavioral ads right now:

“Right now the inventory when there is no ID is still — and I looked it up just today — 53% cheaper,” Katsukis says. “That’s obviously an opportunity for an advertiser to tap into and just figure out, okay: can I get as far with contextual only without an ID, while still having the opportunity to bid 53% lower … as there’s not much competition?”

How does Singular facilitate contextual targeting?

Regardless of which ad targeting you use, having the right attribution and analytics tool is essential to achieving the highest ROAS. 

As a leader in marketing analytics, Singular enables marketers to take a scientific approach to their growth and expose new optimization opportunities in their contextual ads. Similarly, our mobile attribution suite allows you to accurately measure and analyze the impact of your contextual ads and improve the overall ROI of your marketing efforts.

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