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Contextual Advertising: Facts, Myths, and Misconceptions Part 1

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Reader Question: I have newsletter articles and a forum on my Web site. Since I often have focused content on these pages, I thought that contextual ads might be a good way to supplement income from my site. Is this a good idea? What types of contextual advertising programs are available?

Answer: Contextual advertising is a great way to add relevant advertising to a Web site, particularly if a site’s content is written in a search-engine friendly manner. If a blog or forum contains discussions about the different types of Web hosting available, then ads about Web hosting can appear along the top and/or the right side of a page. These ads might contain the exact information readers are searching for.

Additionally, if you are a small- to medium-size business owner, contextual advertising can save you considerable time and expense. Many of the major and second-tier search engines offer contextual advertising programs.

What is contextual advertising?

Contextual advertising is a type of online advertising commonly used for content-based Web sites, such as publisher or news sites. With contextual advertising, targeted ads appear on a Web page based on the page’s actual content.

First, a contextual advertising system scans the text (content) of a Web page for keyword phrases. Then, the system returns specific, targeted ads based on the content people are viewing. Contextual ads usually appear in three formats: separate ads that appear in specific areas on a page, inline or in-text contextual ads, or pop-up ads.

Types of contextual advertising

In the search engine marketing (SEM) industry, the contextual ads that people are most familiar with are AdSense from Google and Content Match from Overture). Second-tier, pay-per-click search engines such as FindWhat and Kanoodle also offer contextual advertising programs.

These contextual ads commonly appear on the right side of the page under an area labeled "Sponsored Links." Advertisers who are willing to pay more per click can also have their ads displayed at the top of a Web page, depending on the publisher. These types of ads are also known as inline contextual advertising.

Another type of inline contextual advertising is called in-text contextual advertising, a type of advertising offered by companies such as Vibrant Media. With in-text contextual advertising, ads appear within the actual page content. For example, suppose a Web site contains an article about diabetes. Throughout the article, unique hypertext links appear (not the blue, underlined kind) that are actually links to contextual ads. Some reasons that publishers (and end users) like these types of contextual ads is:

1) The ads are not ostentatious and irritating, and

2) The ads are completely user activated. In other words, once the user figures out the hypertext link is an ad, he/she can choose whether or not to click on it to view the full ad.

The last type of contextual ad is a pop-up or pop-under ad. Personally, I am not too fond of these types of ads because they tend to be rather irritating and intrusive. In addition, users can easily use a pop-up blocker to disable the ads.

Types of sites that benefit from contextual ads

As I stated previously, news and publisher sites are the perfect medium for contextual ads. Since the reader has a site with newsletter content, and newsletters tend to be focused on specific areas of interest (such as marketing, small business, Web design, etc.), incorporating a contextual advertising program into the site can be beneficial.

However, please keep in mind that your site’s content needs to be top notch. Reason? In order to get advertising revenue, visitors must click on the ads and leave your site. Make sure your site’s content is worth revisiting on a regular basis (like a newsletter or forum site) or else you might send some of your qualified visitors away to your competitors’ sites.

Other sites that can benefit from a contextual advertising program are those who have site search engines. Both Google and Overture have programs that allow their contextual ads to be displayed on search results pages.

Finally, Web directories are great places to serve up contextual ads. Since directories are categorized and, therefore, heavily targeted, the ads that appear in each category will most likely be quite relevant. Additionally, people like to bookmark useful Web directories rather than link to each and every site listed in the directory.

Conclusion

Before diving into the contextual advertising arena, do your research. Go ahead and look at the programs offered at Google and Overture, but also look at other options. I market many sites in the manufacturing industry, and I find the FindWhat advertising program to be very helpful on the Thomas Register sites. Always consider your users first when selecting the best type of contextual advertising program for your site.

Also, be aware of your competitors’ ads appearing on your pages. " I wouldn’t join AdSense or any other contextual scheme unless I could control whose ads would be placed on our sites," said Anne Kennedy, Managing Partner at search engine marketing firm Beyond Ink. "We’ve worked hard to develop the Beyond Ink brand and we are extremely protective of it."

In Part 2 of this article series, I will analyze some of the common myths and misconceptions about the various types of contextual advertising.

Shari Thurow is Marketing Director at Grantastic Designs, Inc., a full-service search engine marketing, web and graphic design firm. This article is excerpted from her book, Search Engine Visibility published in January 2003 by New Riders Publishing Co. Shari can be reached at shari@grantasticdesigns.com.

Shari Thurow Answers SEO Questions: Click Here For Free Answers

Contextual Advertising: Facts, Myths, and Misconceptions Part 1


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    • mittens

      i loved it ty

  • http://lowerbloodpressuretoday.com/ Cris

    Great information. I have a new website and I’m looking for ways to monetize it. Unfortunately, I can’t find part 2 of this article. I also hope this spammer takes a flight.

  • Guest

    Hi,

    Plz explain me about contexual linking. what is that and how we can use that. and what is benefits of contextual linking.

  • http://www.webtechaid.com Guest

    Thanks for the information.

  • http://www.prostoinvest.ru investorama

    Thanks, your blog inspires me!!!
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    • Guest

      no

  • http://www.investorama.ru buffet

    Do you know about russian market of contextual advertising? There are three systems Yandex, Google and Begun. Here is no individual leader in the market. All three shares market.

  • http://www.pokergamer.ru Poker Gamer

    I have poker site and used Goggle Adwords for advertising and promotion, but Google not allowed me to use because of law. Is it right?

    • Guest

      Most campaniles don’t allow it do to the traffic they get is bad. Let me say this bad for the person paying for the ad lots of clicks no return. I would look into finding one that alows adult sites and us them they pay good too.

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    Great idea! I like your blog.

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