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  • mFilterIt Experts

Brand Safety: Contextual Targeting is Flawed!

Protecting the brand’s digital assets has always been challenging yet unavoidable and demands taking measures religiously. One such issue is ensuring the placement of digital ads in safe environments, which has led advertisers back to the traditional approach of contextual targeting.

The reuse of contextual targeting came with the growing need for cookies which enable brands to segregate the user base. However, keyword and topic-based contextual targeting initially faced competition from behavioral targeting (online targeting by analyzing user behavior).

The decade-old method of contextual targeting has become the chosen brand safety solution of significant brands by upholding its promises. It ensures extreme levels of relevancy, enhanced ad reachability, safeguarding brand reputation, and more.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals have found loopholes in contextual targeting, while brands still rely only on its advantages. But, we have discovered its drawbacks and fight against them using two of our best solutions.

2 Dangerous Flaws of Contextual Targeting

● Keyword Blacklisting is Not a Full-Proof Approach

Today, ad managers like Google and Bing cannot recognize the widespread regional languages used in India and many others. Therefore, ad managers can’t offer publishers the relief of creating whitelists and blacklists on such websites. Contextual targeting boosts ad relevancy becomes even more challenging because of such capabilities.

The incapacity of identifying regional languages diminishes the brand’s viable placement options and reaches a potential audience. The ad managers fail to block websites using more than one language because the keywords become challenging to recognize. The ads also continuously occur on URLs with languages not recognized by the ad managers.

Additionally, content curators tarnish brand safety efforts by using popular tags in their videos to acquire higher marketing results. Brands cannot block all ‘unsafe keywords,’ e.g., ‘shoot,’ as they are often used in words like photoshoot, troubleshoot, shooting star, video shooting, etc. So, the chances of the ad appearing next to a terrorist shooting video or a shooting star video are pretty much the same. Hence, contextual targeting is flawed with subjectiveness.

● Site Miscategorizations

Often fashion websites are miscategorized as ‘adult,’ and the same issue also arises in the website’s pages, as the decision of categorization, description, meta tags, etc., is in the hands of the publishers. Unfortunately, such instances are prevalent and often cause missed relevant opportunities for the advertisers.

Additionally, miscategorization diminishes a publisher’s revenue. Besides this, fraudsters constantly miscategorize their fake websites and apps to acquire ad placements and higher revenue.

Therefore, the advertisers unknowingly lose ad budgets on websites showing unsafe content such as hate speech, fake news, disinformation, etc. Keyword blocking cannot be helpful if the advertisers can’t distinguish between counterfeit and original publisher, which is the intent of the cybercriminal for creating a fake site/app.

Solutions to Use While Targeting Contextually

  1. Direct Buying

Direct buying ensures enhanced visibility of ads to a genuine audience. Brands have a higher chance of boosting relevancy through direct ad placements using Private Marketplaces (PMPs). Knowing the exact placements of ads might satisfy the advertiser/brand; however, it doesn’t uphold its promise of full-proof safe environments for ads.

The PMPs continuously expand their URLs and possibly and expose themselves to miscategorized websites. Another drawback of direct placements is that it diminishes the brand’s exposure and derails the efforts of achieving the potential target audience.

● Use a Brand Safety Service Provider

mFilterIt’s Brand Safety solution can recognize the best platforms for placing ads and constantly alerts brands about wrongful ad placements in real-time. Therefore, brands can continuously update their blacklists. The open-intelligence-driven solution functions through contextual analysis. Hence, it can detect whether the enforced blocked keyword should revoke ad placements on the platform or not?

Therefore, the brands can increase URLs in the allowlists even if the site and its pages are miscategorized. Furthermore, brands can feel secure that their ads appear in safe environments and boost their ad relevancy.


Contextual targeting is a viable approach for diminishing brand safety issues, but brands should use optimization methods such as a Brand Safety solution, GARM compliances, etc. By doing so, brands can raise the bar of their reputation and even enhance relevancy. mFilterIt’s Brand Safety solution caters to all such requirements.

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