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Introduction to Contextual Advertising

Contextual advertising is an online advertising tool which allows ads that are related to keywords on a given page to appear on that page on a user's screen. This form of advertising is used by search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN, to place sponsored and paid ads on the returned search listings on users' computer screens. Contextual advertising uses programs to scan the text of web pages and then trigger ads which have similar keywords. For example a user who goes to a website dedicated to NFL football, might have contextual ads appear which advertise jerseys for different teams, ticket brokers, or other sports-related sites. With the search engines, like Google, when a user performs a search, either above the organic results or on the right-hand side of the screen, the contextual ads appear for related websites. The difference between search engine advertising and contextual advertising is that search engine advertising is determined by the keywords entered by the user, while the latter triggers ads based on the content of any given page.

Costs of Contextual Ad Campaigns

Contextual advertising costs are similar to the costs for other forms of search engine advertising in that campaign costs are calculated by using a cost-per click, or cost-per impression method, meaning that advertisers can control the amount they pay for each time their ads show, and have a fixed budget which can't be exceeded. Contextual advertising allows users to fully control their accounts and can effectively be used by advertisers with budgets of all sizes.


Although results can be seen almost immediately, perfecting a contextual advertising campagin will take some time. Once the ads begin showing, traffic to your site should pick up immediately. To maximize your strategy, running several campaigns at the same time will allow you to test different strategies and keywords. Those that don't perform as well can be stopped with a few clicks of the mouse, and those funds can be redirected into more profitable streams.

Action Plan

Choosing keywords is the most important aspect of this type of marketing campaign, and understanding which words generate the most traffic, and then picking those which are economically viable for your budget will help get a campaign off the ground quickly. Also, spending some time writing good, snappy copy for your ads (with one eye on keywords) will help your campaign target customers more effectively.

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