Targeted Advertising vs. Contextual Advertising

Publicité ciblée vs publicité contextuelle

Advertisements adorn every page that can be viewed on the internet. The difference between them? Some are offered to you based on your behavior on […]

22 November 2023

Advertisements adorn every page that can be viewed on the internet. The difference between them? Some are offered to you based on your behavior on the internet, others based on your search. Here’s why.

Let’s go back to the basics. How does advertising work?

Online advertising involves three actors: advertisers who promote their product, the advertising platforms on which the ads are displayed, and the tracking companies that collect a lot of information about you.

When we browse the internet, we leave traces such as your geolocation, your username, your interests. This information can be recorded by trackers. Cookies are an example of trackers, as they allow any type of data to be recorded in a text file that is deposited by certain sites and that is saved on your computer. Another site can then read through these files and retrieve interesting information about you (such as what you last searched for, for example). Be careful, information can also be left by your online activity and especially on social networks: tweets, comments, reviews left for example.

Trackers are created by data companies (such as Google, for example) that sell this information to advertising platforms. Platforms can then offer users much more targeted ads, which are likely to be of more interest to them. Targeted advertising can therefore bring in more customers. As a result, data sells for a lot of money. In concrete terms, you, as a user, offer your data to tracking companies, which sell it to advertising platforms, which can thus offer targeted advertising and charge advertisers much more, who in turn see the effectiveness of their ads skyrocket. So everybody’s happy. Except you maybe…

There is another type of advertising that is not based on your profile or search history. This is called contextual advertising. The advertisement you see on the page you are viewing will depend on the search you have performed. For example, if you are looking for a red bag and you go to e-commerce site A, you may be offered an advertisement for a red bag sold on site B, or an advertisement for shoes for example. Once you leave the site and visit another site for a different search, you will have an advertisement relating to your search, not the red bag you just searched for. The company that promotes its products does not buy an advertising profile but search themes. And so for that, you don’t need your data!

In short: one plays with your data and makes money, the other is less profitable but respects the lives of its users.

Which side are you on?

Other articles on the subject:
How to limit ad tracking on iPhone?
How to limit ad tracking on LinkedIn?

Caption: image by vectorjuice on Freepik

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