This post explains the difference between using context to place an ad and using it to achieve an outcome. In Strossle, we view these two as fundamentally different offerings, although both use the label “contextual targeting”.
While most other industry actors obsessed over “data is the new oil” and exploiting information extracted from end users in the process, we decided not to participate - and instead focus on other ways of creating value for publishers and advertisers.
At Strossle, we want to support media companies and contribute to a strong, sustainable media ecosystem. Fundamentally, our role is to recommend content to the end users, and we want to do this with publishers in control. When we enable the reader to more easily navigate to the next piece of content from the end of an article, we create engagement, sustain the longevity of articles and additional value is created for the publisher. The challenge is knowing what to recommend as Strossle doesn't have a relationship with the user in question.
Our position is that any efficiency gained from basing recommendations on user data, does not justify the risk. Data collection and aggregation means an increased threat of information going astray. This year alone, data breaches have caused the unwarranted spread of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) affecting hundreds of thousands of users. Breaches happen at huge and small companies alike and they include Facebook, LinkedIn, Parler and Microsoft to mention a few.
To Strossle, context is a substitute for user data. We aim to use it to predict what content recommendations will create the optimal outcomes for a given context. For editorial content the desired outcome is engagement, and so we optimise for that. This creates value for publishers, without undermining the relationship they have with their readers.
For commercial content, the desired outcomes differ more.
Contextual ad placement vs Contextually driven outcomes
When advertisers hear context, they often think about placing their ads in proximity to relevant content. Car ad in car magazine, clothing on a fashion site and so on. Advertisers use Strossle's publisher network to do this as well. However, advertisers' rationale behind this approach is generally to have their brand name seen in the vicinity of content that supports their brand identity. The key word here is “seen”. Being seen is a job for the Display formats.
Strossle is about recommending content to be consumed. It's not the ad itself, but the content it promotes that will deliver the outcome for the advertiser. The page from which the reader came might say something about the interests, desires or mood of the reader, but more importantly, our data tells us the context can help predict how he or she will react to the promoted content. Many marketers look for engagement, much like publishers. However, a significant share also look for conversions and actions of different kinds.
This means we have an opportunity to use the advertisers' desired outcome to learn what context is right for that particular combination of ad and content. This capability is at the core of Strossle. Enhancing it to deliver engaged traffic to advertisers is central to our mission. This is a fundamentally different job than placing a car ad in a car magazine.
Regardless if you are a publisher or an advertiser, Strossle finds the context that is right for your content, based on the job you want to get done. We do this while respecting the privacy of your readers and customers. To Strossle, this form of contextual targeting is a powerful and privacy safe substitution for personal information when engaging an audience.