With Google planning to retire third-party cookie tracking in 2023, marketers everywhere are searching for the next best way to show the most relevant ads to users. How do they reach specific people at the right time? Between behavioral and contextual targeting, marketers need a more flexible way to think about “the right time.”

What Is Contextual Targeting?

Contextual targeting is defined as showing an advertisement directly related to the website content being viewed. For example, if a user reads an article titled “10 Best Electric Vehicles,” a Tesla display ad might show on the page. Another example might be if a user reads about ways to save time, and meal delivery subscription ads are shown. Contextual targeting uses data from website analysis to determine the topics, keywords, and image information (among other details) to determine what a web page is about. Based on the data, the ad servers know what ads to place on that individual page.

What is Context Switching and Why Does it Matter?

As attention spans decrease and the average consumer engages with multiple pieces of content at a time, context switching is essential for marketers to consider. Context switching is moving from one task to another, and it comes with some serious negative side effects. Thanks to cognitive flexibility, humans are able to easily and quickly move from topic to topic. While it seems great to multi-task, context switching eats into focused time.

This movement from one state to another used to be powered by third-party cookie tracking. But with the depreciation of cookies, there is still the question of showing the right ad at the right time. Does this moment of a shifted context matter? Should ad servers still show a relevant ad? For example, attention residue shows that even as a user has moved on, their brain is still thinking about the top 10 best electric vehicles — even if they’re now reading an article on SportsCenter.

The Right Ad at the Right Time

Finding the optimal moment is critical. And as movement and behavior online continually change, the right moment for the right ad might continue to shift. We’re primed at all different times to get a nudge about a topic we were previously researching thanks to the flexible human brain.

At Dstillery, we help clients maximize the value of customer data and transform the way they connect with their audiences. To help prepare for the retirement of third-party cookies, we’ve launched a new cookieless targeting solution that isn’t contextual.

If you’re interested in learning more, visit dstillery.com/go-cookieless.