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Why Contextual is the Answer for Publishers Worried about User Data Privacy

Even if you have never seen a Congressional hearing with testimonies from the biggest industry leaders, you know that data protection laws are getting tighter across the globe. Starting with the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe, and followed by the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), most jurisdictions are expected to follow suit. By changing the way companies access, store, and use the data of consumers, the laws minimize misuse of personal and sensitive information. For content creators and advertisers across the internet, the curbs on consumer data use will likely have a significant revenue impact.

Safari, the Apple browser, blocked all third-party cookies way back in 2019. Other popular browsers, including Chrome and Firefox, are introducing strong measures to prevent user tracking. With these measures in place, traditional cookie-based targeting may soon phase out. Fortunately, an alternative mode of targeting already exists contextual targeting.

Contextual: Ad tech with a proven track record

Contextual marketing is not new but has surely evolved into a powerful way for publishers to make revenue. Cookie-based targeting became the primary way for ad networks to deliver revenue, but it came at a big cost and eroded a lot of the public trust in publishers. In a privacy-first digital ecosystem, contextual is becoming the go-to solution for publishers.

Developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning have been rapid and it has strengthened the core of contextual technology. Newer AI and machine learning capabilities contribute towards better contextual categorization, better natural language processing and more. From discerning content meaning to determine the content from images and videos, contextual technology now allows evolved understanding and advanced funneling of intent.

All of these capabilities put together offer superior relevance in ad delivery, based on a sharp understanding of user intent at the moment they consume the content of choice.

Contextual doesn’t need to work around laws and regulations

Privacy and data protection laws now require companies to secure explicit permission while using consumer data. So, cookie-based targeting, which formed the basis of internet advertising is increasingly difficult and destroys the user experience of publisher websites risking a loss of audiences and higher bounce rates. Even as web browsers make privacy the default setting and target cookies, contextual advertising remains safe and compliant with state laws as well as platform requirements from Apple, Google or Firefox.

The contextual approach works within consumer privacy laws and not around them. Ad tech companies have started using new ways to gain and store consent through third-party cookies and this can often seem violative to users. Platforms like Firefox have released containers for trackers like Facebook, so that users don’t feel like they’re being followed around the web by omnipresent, but not so obvious tracking mechanisms. Contextual technology does depend on the loopholes to provide effective targeting. Instead, contextual technology operates within the boundaries set by regulations like GDPR or CCPA, while still enabling advertisers to find the right audience and publishers to deliver relevant ads.

Contextual has the faith of advertisers

No matter how effective a mode of targeting is unless advertisers have faith in it, it will not be a viable source of revenue for publishers. When it comes to contextual, there are years of evidence to suggest that advertisers trust contextual targeting technology. Advertisers have already begun setting aside new budgets for contextual ads while maintaining old outlays leading to more value on contextual inventory.

This is because contextual advertising not only protects data privacy, but it also performs well and boosts lead generation and conversions. Even with the strictest of privacy laws coming into force, contextual targeting will enable publishers to boost revenue from ads.


As the world prepares to address data privacy concerns, internet advertising is changing forever. But publishers only need to find the right technological solution as a replacement to the old way of generating revenue. The perfect alternative to cookie-based targeting exists and is well within reach.

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