Contextual advertising  has been here forever. However, with the continuous development of tracking technologies, the use of personal data driven tools such as third-party cookies, has become a much more popular way to identify and reach relevant audiences for marketers.

When GDPR was adopted, it was clear that this piece of legislation would have a substantial effect on the digital advertising industry. Lost in the digital labyrinths, most of the consumers have no idea who is looking at them and how the data about their behaviour on the internet are processed before an advertising pops-up on them. In the digital world, GDPR has offered consumers greater choice and control over the way their data is handled.

For some, it might have seemed that the privacy issues raised by GDPR could be overcome by greater transparency (longer privacy policies published on websites) and better cookie-setting technologies (interactive cookie banners), but the biggest digital players quickly understood that a real change is needed.

With the biggest player of all, Google, having decided to block third-party cookies in Chrome (from 2023), marketers and publishers now have to re-evaluate their digital marketing strategies. 

In this context IAB Europe, the leading European-level industry association for the digital advertising and marketing ecosystem, pointed at one traditional tool for online targeting – contextual advertising. IAB does not just say “do it the old way”, but points to the evolution of the contextual advertising from simple keyword targeting to the use of more sophisticated, machine-learning technologies that provide a much better understanding of the content and allow brands to reach audiences in a more meaningful way to create more relevant consumer experiences without intruding consumers´ privacy. In its recently issued  Guide to Contextual Advertising, IAB promotes contextual advertising as one important alternative for the post third-party cookie world. And the marketers and publishers will certainly listen. 

One piece of legislation from the EU and the entire industry must change. And that change is happening now.

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