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Pros and cons of contextual advertising. What to consider before launching

Contextual advertising is a proven way to reveal the company to potential customers. As with any promotion type, there are advantages and disadvantages. The thing that is not convenient for one business possibly will be appropriate for another one. We tried to describe the peculiarities of this advertisement kind and asked three experts to leave their comments. Read below their advice on what has to be considered for companies that only decided whether to launch paid ads or not. 

Advantages of contextual advertising

1. Starts to work at once

Advertisements are displayed right after you launched contextual advertisement and it was moderated — usually it doesn’t take more than a day. In comparison, SEO-optimization gives first results in months.

It is an opportunity for a quick start for new websites with low traffic. They might not get to the organic top soon, moreover, it is pretty booked with other older and bigger competitors. But paid ads are displaying right now and bring customers.

“The main difference between SEO and PPC is the time when you receive results. It is possible to evaluate the effectiveness of paid ads in 1-2 months but for SEO it takes much longer. However, the most effective projects are the ones that work with both SEO and РРС. Then the result is complex”.

Eugene Glazyrin
Formerly PPC Specialist at Netpeak agency

2. You clearly understand what you pay for

While choosing keywords, you instantly see the recommended rate per click by each of them. It is important to understand that this information is approximate. Nevertheless, it is possible to receive an approximate understanding of the click cost and level of competition.

It is you who sets the everyday budget for paid ads. The system warns of the potential number of displays and clicks with such investments. When money is wasted, the interface shows all spendings on the ad campaign. All in all, everything is transparent.

3. It is traffic from potentially interested customers

Due to settings, the advertisement is shown only to the audience that looks like your target but not to all users. For example, business displays an advertisement by commercial requests — “to buy”, “to request”, and opt-out informative ones — “what is”, “how to…on my own”. It narrows down the audience, however, only people who are initially ready to make a purchase open the website.

While launching Display Ads, the system thoroughly chooses platforms where the advertisement will be displayed. It analyzes users’ interests, page content so it will match your topic, website credibility and many more.

Example of paid advertising
Example of paid advertising

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4. You choose where and whom to show the advertisement

There are a lot of settings that you can change during campaign launching. Thus, the advertisement will be shown to your target audience only. The simplest out of them are age, sex, device, user location — to a radius of 1 km. It is possible, for example, to show paid ads to the ones who are going to travel.

Concerning display ads, the system itself picks up relevant platforms. However, you can always delete a website from the list if you notice that it drives non-target traffic.

5. It is possible to define the effectiveness of the advertisement 

An advertiser sees detailed statistics not in Google Ads only where campaigns are customizing but in Google Analytics as well. Due to this, you can see how users interact with each campaign, how many transfers it brought for the set period, how keywords worked, the cost of the click, etc.

Effectiveness of the advertisement
The source of the screenshot is the Google Analytics Demo Account

If a company uses call tracking — the system shows which advertisement brought the call from a customer. The majority of such services are integrated with analytical systems. Thus, data on the source of a call, channel, campaign and even keyword ae automatically transferred there.

You can also use end-to-end analytics that shows ROI and makes data on the revenue becomes available. Ringostat end-to-end analytics is a flexible instrument for those who value their time as it allows working in a single system.  

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6. An advertisement is easy to create and launch 

Google Ads interface is intuitively clear. To launch an advertisement, it is enough to set the goal, write a title and text of an advertisement, download a picture if the ad format allows doing so. Even keywords are offered by the system.

You can also use:

  • Google detailed manuals;
  • thousands of tips and step by step guide from experts on subject portals;
  • support service from the system itself.

There is one “but” — it is easy to create advertisements but making them really effective without a specialist is rather difficult.

7. Easy to manage and opt-out

The campaign is under your total control. Anytime you can change text and titles, targeting conditions, expand both keywords and negative keywords lists. You influence the position of advertisement by changing rates and campaigns budget.

If something has gone wrong you can opt-out a campaign or the display of a separate advertisement. For example, if it is not effective or an advertising message was unclear to users. It is also useful for a seasonal business. For you to compare, in SEO or viral advertisements it is impossible to quickly influence the situation. 

“Previously SEO was easier than contextual advertising. It simply required time for the right link building and the correct choice of keywords for the website content.

Now by some requests in Google search, we see the same number of results by organic and paid ads considering top and bottom advertising blocks. It became complicated to receive your website on the top by different requests using SEO. As many users’ behavior and history factors are considered. The website content, its relevance, and its usefulness.

In this situation the advantages of paid ads are obvious. We can launch the promotion of any products and services in one day, spending minimum efforts. Google, Bing, Facebook, and other systems every day make their algorithms better in favor of advertisements. Each platform has programs for traffic holders that allow them to expand the audience and increase the average check size”.

Dmitry Bornyakov,
Head of Marketing department, Digital Media Buying Manager, Adtelligent

Disadvantages of contextual advertising

1. Paid ads may be expensive

If users make a lot of clicks on the advertisement it doesn’t mean that you will have many customers. Meanwhile, you continue to spend money and often great sums if the topic is competitive. That’s why it is so important to check the efficacy and cost recovery of advertisements. The manual is described in the article “How to check contextual advertising efficacy”.

There are business spheres with the high price of the click. Make sure you checked WordStream infographics on the top expensive keywords in Google Ads.

The top 25 most expensive keywords in Google Ads

Spends on advertisements also depend on a season. It is possible to promote the ski equipment during the whole year at a moderate cost but as the winter comes, rates in this topic will increase. By the way, the more keywords are using during promotion, the higher is its price.

2. Advertisement position depends on your customers

The placement of your advertisement is bid on the auction. Other companies that have campaigns by the same requests also participate in this auction.

If other companies paid more — their advertisements will be higher in the research results. Then yours may be in the bottom, on the second page or doesn’t show at all. The more competitors you have, the more you pay and the harder it is to be at the top. Ad Rank also influences the position of an advertisement.

3. It is hard to launch an effective advertisement without professional help

Anyone can launch an advertisement directly by a manual — but nothing can change the experience and deep knowledge. It is bare that a non-professional will consider all keys for promotion and correctly pick up negative keywords list to filter the non-target traffic. Not mentioning that a full setup requires a lot of time.

Even for a professional PPC Specialist spends several hours to collect the semantic core. It is also needed to analyze the received results and optimize the advertisement so it would bring more closed deals. Thus, many companies refer right to experts in the field or to an agency. 

4. When the budget is over, the advertisement instantly stops displaying

In comparison, if SEO optimizer stopped working with the website, the platform still continues to bring customers. It can even have the same position in the organic search for a long time.

5. There are limitations

Not everything can be promoted via paid ads. For example, Google has enough limits:

  • in a medical sphere is forbidden a personalized advertisement related to diseases treatment, plastic surgery, prescription drugs;
  • tickets to events can be promoted only by Google certified sellers;
  • advertisements for online stores that sell alcohol are allowed only in several countries, etc.

6. Suitable not for all products and services

Contextual advertising would be an unreasonable luxury for a small grocery store or a mini market visited by habitants of five nearest houses. It is also not suitable for innovative companies that developed a new product as people simply don’t search for it. The same thing is with products or services that are highly specialized. However, due to one of our experts, the last one is not destiny.

“For sure, there are topics for which it is harder to sell via paid ads. For example, once we promoted a company that made systems of accounting, planning and fuel budgeting in airports.

Initially, it was impossible to imagine by which requests people search for such systems and how they make a decision on a purchase. We had to put a lot of forces to find the relevant audience for this product. But as we sold one system like that we were able to cover the year of using paid ads :)”

Eugene Glazyrin,
Formerly PPC Specialist at Netpeak agency

We will sum up the advantages and disadvantages of contextual advertising with Dmitry Bornyakov opinion:

“Algorithms limit advertisers by accurate settings and the choice of the audience. Each advertisement has limits under the law. That’s why we see accounts blocks, same type advertisement and unsatisfied customers who more often started to complain that they tried paid ads and haven’t seen the results. 

Due to the high competition prices on ads has grown, as well as the number of frauds. They make click fraud, imitate users’ behavior on the website, fill in requests/registrations so such systems as Google allocate more budget on such an audience.

Here SEO optimization comes to help you. You receive qualified traffic that is well converted and doesn’t cost you that much. Anyway, I never ignore paid ads launching and recommend to everyone to try it on different platforms.

Using this tool you can to receive quick results. You can get data needed for optimization other marketing channels and test the efficacy of your website work, analyze the portrait of your target audience”.

How to understand whether you need contextual advertising

Oleg Poddubny, a PPC Specialist, Digital Chief agency founder, WebPromoExperts academy professor, and CPC Real Talk community administrator — replied to this question.

“First of all, you need to count whether it is profitable for you. A client needs to consider how much money he will receive here and now with all the spends. Or in perspective, if a business is all-new, how much he wants to receive. This has to be counted without including spends on marketing.

After this, we look at competitors in paid ads, collect keywords at our topic and their cost. Now Теперь you can make a decomposition from “I want to earn A” to “I need to spend B”. If on this stage numbers are badly consolidating and there is no light at the end of the tunnel — it is better to think, probably, you need a cheaper channel.

If, all in all, you decided to launch, make everything possible so your advertisement becomes profitable. Meanwhile, deal with the fact that in the worst case we have lost the money invested in advertisement and won’t get them back. As a result, if it will not work out — forget about this direction for a while and search for alternatives. Success — think about optimization. There are cases when cost recovery comes not from the first payment. You also need to remember this.”

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What to consider before launching

Dmitry Bornyakov recommendations.

1. Before launching you always need to set tasks and goals that you want to reach using ads.

2. Configure analytics and conversion tracking by micro-goals:

  • page view by the offer more than one minute;
  • document download;
  • lead form filled in.

3. The same way you need to do with macro-goals: account registration, purchase on the website, proper call. You must set goals. Thus, the system will be able to optimize traffic by them and will help to achieve better results.

4. I never launch paid ads before these elements are not customized, as well as pixels of basic platforms. I am using Google Tag Manager to do so. It is easily integrated with Google Analytics and other platforms. For example, Facebook Pixel is a snippet of JavaScript code for a website that allows evaluating, optimizing and creating an audience for campaigns.

Initially, it is better to allocate a budget at least for a month, as the first five days the platform will take for training. And the minimal volume of data in most cases starts from 100 visitors/clicks/conversions, depending on a business category. Even after launching don’t hope that everything will go perfectly. Always track activity in the platform as some of them allow daily cost overrun. 

Take seriously questions about targeting and advertisements creation. If your ads don’t differ from your competitors, then, probably, you will simply receive a high cost of displays or clicks. Don’t expect a high CTR if you will target advertisements to a general audience with creative only.

Remember that after launching paid ads you must analyze the effectiveness so your budget won’t be wasted. Want to find out which advertisements bring you calls? Text us in comments or chat. 

About author

A full-time marketer with 3 years of experience in the B2B sphere. Started my path in marketing as a translator and content creator. Tried myself in social media outreach and email campaigns. I also worked with niche marketing (real estate) and partnership program (affiliate).