08 Mar 2019

Decoding Advertising Buzzwords: Contextual Marketing

In an age of smartwatches and smartphones, it would only make sense that marketing would have a “smart” counterpart.

That’s where contextual marketing comes in.

By definition, contextual marketing is “marketing that is aware of its surroundings and its placement within a larger form of context.” Basically, it’s marketing that takes advantage of its situation, adapting and reacting to user behavior, relevant data, and more.

If you remember the Super Bowl power outage a few years back, you’ve seen contextual marketing at work. During the blackout, Oreo took to Twitter, sending out a message that was simple, yet effective – “You can still dunk in the dark.”

It was not only funny enough to gain traction, but made fans watching the game feel like Oreo was right there with them.

The days of blanket advertising are gone.

There is no longer one formula for targeting women between the ages of 25 and 34, for instance. More factors have to go into segmentation than ever before.

What is her relationship status? Where is she from? What are her interests?
As people become more individualized, so do the tactics that are used to reach them.

Let’s say you were recently looking into buying a new car. You might have done a Google search for “new cars” or “cars for sale in my area”, and immediately been overwhelmed by ads from car dealerships in your area, automotive magazines, insurance companies, etc.

When ads are tied to the user’s demonstrated interests, advertising become a helpful information tool as opposed to the annoyance that many have always viewed it as. Plus, people are more likely to click on an ad or seek out more information when it’s something they’re actually searching for.

Simply put, contextual marketing is marketing that thinks. It’s individualized content, carefully crafted messaging, and timely exposure. And the best part is, any marketing firm can easily incorporate this into their strategy.

Most importantly, it’s always ahead of the game, which makes you have to work less for more traction.


I’m Sophie Mann, and I work at encite branding + marketing + creative as Vice President of Strategy. My job entails a continuous study of business, marketing, data and culture, all in the name of driving strategy forward. I’m passionate about helping brands resonate more strongly with their consumers and communicate with their ideal clients. I’m also a proud graduate of the University of Kansas - Rock Chalk!