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Oct 24
Picking keywords for contextual keyword targeting

Picking keywords for contextual keyword targeting

Most marketers equate keywords solely with paid search campaigns. Well, they are not mutually exclusive.

Thanks to contextual keyword targeting, marketers can expand the success they’ve had on paid search to their programmatic advertising strategies. Marketers have turned to keyword targeting because it gives them control over the environment in which their ads are shown. Keywords help you connect your campaigns to likely buyers based on what they are reading or browsing. For example, if your most likely customers hike, you might add keywords around hiking or the outdoors.

Depending on your keywords, your ads instead may show to audiences based on their recent browsing history or other factors, rather than the content of the page they’re currently viewing. But there are some core differences between the keywords you use in paid search campaigns and those in programmatic advertising campaigns.

What is contextual keyword targeting?

Contextual keyword targeting is a digital advertising tactic that allows you to target URLs based on the keywords that appear within website pages.

Once keywords are selected, sites with available ad placements are scanned, keywords are identified, and a probabilistic algorithm is implemented to define and to categorize the page and the impression. If the page is relevant to your selected content, you are eligible to bid on that impression.

For our contextual keyword capabilities, Choozle partners with Oracle & Grapeshot. Grapeshot is the contextual intelligence platform that provides a contextual keyword targeting tool to use within campaigns on our platform. Choozle’s contextual keyword tool is a self-serve offering that empowers agencies and brands to provide more relevant targeting to a broader keyword-based audience—all at lower costs than pay-per-click models such as AdWords.

What kind of keywords can you target?

Marketers tend to categorize keywords into two types—broad match and exact match. These keyword types will have different use cases in paid search and paid display advertising. But before we dig into their applications, we need to understand the meaning of each keyword type.

Broad match type

Broad match, as the name suggests, allows your ad to match the most comprehensive range of possible keywords that are still somewhat related to your keyword, despite how the keywords are ordered within the content of the page. It also allows misspellings or plural variations to trigger your ads to appear. For example, if your broad match keyword is “women’s hats,” your ad might show when a user is looking through content for “men’s hats,” “women’s scarves,” or “girl fedoras.”

Broad match type is preferred for contextual keyword targeting for display advertising. The function of broad match keywords allows for an expanded reach across many different content types while allowing for some control over the placements. For example, the broad match keyword “women’s hats” could show up on the page contains a variety of ways like hats for women or ladies’ hats. These phrases would still be relevant for your preferred keyword but take into account the many different ways the keywords can be used.

Exact match type

Exact match allows your ad only to show when the keyword is displayed exactly like the word or phrase you are bidding on. This keyword match type does not allow for misspellings or plural variations. The only expectation is a close variation of how the phase is ordered. For example, the exact match keyword [men’s dress shirt] will show an ad with content, including the phrase men’s dress shirt and dress shirt men’s.

Exact match type is mostly used in paid search efforts. This targeting strategy enables greater control of the search query experience and maximizes that experience with targeted ads. Exact match type is commonly used when targeting your ad to types of searches with Google AdWords. This would mean that you only want your ad to show up for a specific word or phrase. Additionally, exact match type keywords are typically keyword phrases that encompass multiple words. This can be tricky to navigate as there could be so many variations of the same word or phrase which would change dramatically within written content versus search phrases.

What about negative keywords?

Negative keywords function a little bit differently in a display advertising environment compared to paid search. Your goal is to reach as many relevant audiences as possible based on the content they are reading. Excluding LARGE amounts of negative keywords from your targeting will limit your reach and potential performance. It is essential to understand that words or phrases could have multiple meanings.

However, negative keywords can be a complementary tactic to any other targeting strategy as an added brand safety layer. This can help provide control over the context in which your ads are being shown. With negative keywords, you can block your ad from showing or getting placed alongside inappropriate content or a negative brand association. For example, an airline company might want to add a “plane crash” or “lost plane” to their negative keyword lists to ensure their ads aren’t shown next to articles speaking about a recent plane crash.

How is keyword targeting different in display vs. search?

While keywords are the focus across these two channels, there are some things you should keep in mind as you translate your paid search performance to paid display advertising.

Creating your list

  • Don’t copy and paste your keywords from paid search campaigns into your display advertising. Contextual keyword targeting for display advertising only works for broad match keyword. So your long-tail or overly descriptive keyword phrases will likely hinder your performance.
  • Think about how your keywords could be used in content that your audience would read. Shoot for shorter keywords phrases of two to three words in length.
  • Explore keywords that are related but not a one-to-one match to your product or service. The idea is to increase your reach with your target audience across the content they are interacting with.


  • Expect your keywords to perform differently across paid search and paid display. While you are using keywords in both, it does not mean these channels are equal or that they should be measured in the same way.
  • Start with lower bids than your paid search campaigns. You can often get display clicks for less than you’ll find on search, and it is generally safer to increase incrementally.

Alright, I get all of that, but can you provide some examples?

Let’s say you’re looking to run digital advertising for your bakery across paid search and paid display.

Paid search keywords

Paid search keywords
Ad Group Keywords
Cookies chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, snickerdoodles
Brownies chewy brownies, brownies with nuts, dark chocolate brownies
Cupcakes red velvet cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes

Paid display keywords

Paid display keywords
Ad Group Keywords
Contextual keyword—recipes cookie recipes, dessert recipes, easy desserts, brownie recipes, recipes
Contextual keyword—entertainment ideas entertainment ideas, party food, entertaining at home, home entertaining

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