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The Development of Contextual Advertising

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How did the turnaround in the overall opinion of contextual advertising in the popup from to its current popularity come about?

Largely, the switch in viewpoint toward contextual advertising developed out of the vision by Google to use contextual search as a means of delivering more relevant ads to its network of partners and advertisers.

Google was one of the first search engines to offer content targeting in a program called AdSense that launched in March of 2003, but initially limited those eligible to participate to its larger partnered websites (those with a minimum of 20 million page views per month).

It wasn’t until June of 2003 that Google expanded the program to allow smaller sites to participate and simplified the sign-up process, so that a publisher could sign up online.

Google has positioned content search as a means for advertisers to have their ads appear on highly relevant websites automatically, stating that the program will increase an advertiser’s ROI and reach, and save them time and money via their “extensive network of high-quality partner sites and products.”

In fact, contextual advertising is more suited to the Google AdSense program, in that its main purpose is to increase revenue for publishers by providing relevant ads for their websites.

Google feels that, by providing targeted advertising throughout a website (particularly small websites with small advertising budgets), these sites will benefit from increased traffic, while the advertiser will benefit if a visitor clicks on the ad and visits their site, perhaps making a purchase.

The program is robust enough that it can apparently differentiate between different meanings of amnion words, such as “mouse” as either in annual or a computer peripheral device, and thereby not serve up an ad for a computer mouse act on a medical research website.

It also has a filtering process to eliminate matching ads with articles reporting bad news, thus not placing car ads on content pages discussing a recent car crash, for example.

Some degree of manual review of potential matches of ad to content is also now in place, in addition to the automated algorithm placement method.

The Google program also allows the publisher to block specific URLs they do not want to appear on their site, thus eliminating the risk of a competitor’s ad showing up on their website.

There is also the option of serving up a “standard” ad if the Google software doesn’t find an appropriate ad to place on your content page. They also allow you to customize the colors in the ad to fit with your general web design.

Monitoring tools and reports are also offered, which include the clickthrough rate, the number of impressions, and the number of clicks. You can also group results by URL, ad type, domain name, category, and other parameters.

Earnings from contextual advertising arc displayed and easily accessed, so the publisher can quickly check how much revenue they are generating and then make decisions about changes easily and in a timely manner.

Soon after Google began offering contextual advertising, its competitors jumped onto the bandwagon.

By July of 2003, Yahoo had developed its answer to Google-Content Match. Content Match basically offers the same features as the Google contextual ad program, but of course, delivers results to different partners.

The Yahoo Search Marketing program concentrates more on involving its major partners, such as Yahoo, CNN, ESPN, and MSN, in contextual advertising.

Fewer tools are offered by the Yahoo program to date, although as competition increases, Content Match will undoubtedly adapt and add such functionality.

Other PPC search engines that offer contextual search include:

• Kanoodle.com and its product, ContextTarget (ads may appear on partners such as MSNBC, USAToday.com, MarketWatch/Dow Jones) and BrightAds

• FindWhat.com product, Xpress contextual ads

• EnhanceInteractive.com contextual advertising option, considered a combination of different options available to PPC advertisers

In addition, a number of web properties also offer a form of contextual advertising, although because they are not search engines, per se, the network of websites that your content-related ad may appear on is much smaller. Some examples to investigate include:

• www.Clicksor.com
• www.BidCix.com
• www.BannerBoxes.com
• www.Bidcriser.com
• www.ContextAd.com
• www.Quigo.com – The AdSonar Exchange

Keywords: contextual advertising, AdSense, advertising, Ads, Free keyword tool

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