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Since the launch of the contextual link advertising product on ReadWriteWeb, we at Hakia have been anxious to see the results and evaluate the success of our contextual advertising product, Contexa. The Contexa system matches the semantic context of a blog post with a sponsor's criteria on the fly to deliver relevant ads to the reader. Participating ReadWriteWeb sponsors have provided the contextual engine with up to three "trigger phrases" that define their business. As a reader of the blog, you may have seen the product's implementation at the bottom of certain blog entries, as shown below. You can see another example here.
As we began this exciting journey, the ReadWriteWeb team defined its objective as follows:
- "To offer value to our readers by providing advertising links in the context of what they are reading, links that would therefore more likely be of interest to them, and
- To offer a higher level of engagement to our advertisers, resulting in both more branding impressions and more click-throughs."
The preliminary aggregated statistics of the six participating sponsors (excluding Hakia), covering a 40-day period, demonstrate that the Contexa system has met ReadWriteWeb's objectives:
- The Contexa system increased ad clicks by 14% (i.e. advertiser received, on average, 14% more ad clicks).
- The click-through rate (CTR) for Contexa was more than twice that of ReadWriteWeb's 125 x 125 banner ads.
We decided to turn the tables and interview Bernard Lunn, ReadWriteWeb's COO and Feature Writer for his feedback! Hakia's own COO, Melek Pulatkonak, poses the questions.
Melek: Bernard, we have been working together on the ReadWriteWeb contextual link advertising system for a while. Has the system met your expectations?
Bernard: Yes, it has. We wanted to see if it would generate a meaningful uplift in CTR, and it has.
Melek: What feedback have you received from advertisers? And what would you recommend to participating advertisers going forward?
Bernard: Advertisers have to get the traffic–relevance balance right. You can drive a lot of clicks with a hot term - something we are writing about a lot - but if the relevance is low, the advertiser won't get good conversions. As with any new type of advertising, an art and science emerges over time. People know how to buy search terms on Google, but this is a bit different. I think we need to get better at creating more of a feedback loop (e.g. stats on how different terms have performed) so that advertisers can tune their keyword selection accordingly. Each advertiser has different needs and knows its market intimately, so it is best positioned to decide what works and how to tune its selection.
Melek: What's next? What is your vision?
Bernard: For this first phase, we provided Contexa to our long-term sponsors. In the next phase, we want to offer Contexa as a standalone offering, so that advertisers can purchase keywords (or trigger phrases) directly on ReadWriteWeb. This will be an entry-level self-service advertising option that many smaller startups have requested.
Melek: Anything else you would like to add?
Bernard: Context matters to engagement. That is an obvious statement, but doing it right has been hard, and the opportunities for bloggers to offer ads that engage readers well and offer them value have been limited. Contexa is a good step in this important journey.
We thank the ReadWriteWeb team for working with us closely to create a new contextual ad system for blogs and other publishers. To learn more about Contexa, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.