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Words Matter – Moving Beyond Contextual Marketing

  • Shelby Hickman

    Shelby Hickman

    Digital Data Strategist

Created at May 19th, 2020

Words Matter – Moving Beyond Contextual Marketing

Target the right persona, within a dynamically changing audience.

I’m one of those people who fall into the “adopting a dog during quarantine” category. While being stuck in the house, my desire for a furry friend only grew. I’m in my lower 20s, and  this is my first pet to take care of on my own – so naturally I wanted to be prepared. Before adopting, I took online quizzes for “What Dog Breed is Best for You?” and read articles about “Dogs Best for Apartments” and “Adopting from Rescue or Breeder?” Suffice to say, I was consuming a lot of dog content. 

Now that my pup – Dakota – is settled into her new home, my online content consumption has shifted to how to take care of a puppy, like immunizations, giving flea/tick baths, the best foods for her, and the most important of all … housebreaking tips. I never knew how comfortable I would get with cleaning up puppy “surprises” every 30 minutes, but I would love to move into teaching her sit, stay, and shake after the potty training is over. In the midst of trying to potty train a puppy, I recently moved and have been looking at ways to puppy-proof the new place.  

With a new dog and a new apartment, marketers should have plenty of interest insights to send me personalized, online marketing. But what if marketers limited themselves to serving me puppy food ads ONLY when I am viewing puppy food-related content. Would it not make more sense to serve ads on other websites as well, like cooking or clothing sites I visit? What about the fact I haven’t gone back to look at puppy food articles since buying the first bag and am now onto bigger and brighter things – like sit, stay, and shake training.

No matter how many times I see an ad for, I’m no longer in the market and have moved on. I may also be searching for Honda car accessories to protect my backseat when Dakota rides in the car. But since I am on a page with such high “aboutness” of Honda automobiles – contextual advertisers may assume I am in the market for a new Honda. They have no concept of the other online content I have also been viewing.  Had they, they would likely better understand my interests.

In its most simple definition, semantics is the meaning of words and linguistics and the context in which they are used. If I said “carnival” what do you think of? Maybe the cruise ship line, the retailer Shoe Carnival, or the Brazilian festival? Acxiom Semantic audiences is a new digital offering to help our clients and advertisers target the right persona, within a dynamically changing audience. Semantic audiences start like contextual offerings – extracting relevant keywords from websites visited. As I bounce from page to page, keywords are added to my Semantic audiences keyword cloud, where words have a “weight” assigned depending on how many times the word appears in the content. If I visit four webpages with “dogs” mentioned, it will have a higher weight in my keyword cloud. But those other keywords mentioned in the content, like food, bed, leash, and training are also included, just with less weight than “dogs.” With contextual advertising, audiences are tightly siloed and limited to the “aboutness” of a page instead of the semantic detail. So as I search for puppy furniture protectant products, I might come across content for furniture protection from spills and messes. Since my word cloud now has high relevance to “puppies,” advertisers can insightfully target me about puppy house protectants on furniture or cooking websites. Contextual advertisers would only show me furniture polish or cleaners on furniture websites because they share the same “aboutness.” 

Another interesting advantage to using Semantic audiences is the ability for advertisers to engage consumers in what’s happening in the world NOW. Up to the last second, Semantic audiences are constantly evolving with content consumption and relevant keywords consumers are interested in. In the midst of the pandemic, the travel industry is struggling because few consumers are booking trips. But, as the world starts to emerge from isolation, travel advertisers can use Semantic audiences to ease back into the flow.

Consumers reading about “delayed travel plans” and “COVID-19” will be the ones in a couple of months looking to resume that travel. Remember – Semantic audiences are based on what people are reading NOW, so advertisers have the capability to optimize campaigns with consumers to be ready when travel begins to resume.

Semantic audiences will continuously adapt to the content as the world emerges from isolation, which allows advertisers and brands to get ahead of the curve. A similar tactic would be to run an always-on digital campaign and watch as an audience evolves within the campaign. Through the campaign’s life cycle, consumer purchase cycles keep adapting to what they are consuming online. For example, since I am no longer searching content about adopting a dog, my purchase behavior has changed. Now a pet store chain can begin showing me offers versus the rescue groups and breeders that were previously seeking my attention. Because my online behavior has changed, so has the inclusion of me in a campaign.

Acxiom Semantic audiences are offered globally in the European Economic Area (EEA), Asia-Pacific (APAC), Latin America (LATAM), and United States and comply with privacy regulations across the globe, including GDPR.  These audiences are available through programmatic destinations and are great for advertisers in the financial or healthcare industries that follow strict compliance regulations often with little audience availability.

This type of audience intelligence improves accuracy and relevance of ads by understanding the consumer’s search and meanings of phrases contained. Consumers looking at Carnival cruise options will be presented vacation and travel packages, and not with ads for Shoe Carnival or Tom Cruise movies.

Acxiom Semantic audiences are available through the DataGuru Team and can be activated in one to two days. The consumer interest puzzle is constantly evolving and is not always as it appears if you are only working with half the puzzle. Acxiom Semantic audiences is designed to keep your marketing as dynamic as the consumers you are trying to reach.