How-to 7 min read

What is contextual advertising and how it is used: the basics of PPC

Contextual advertising is a way to quickly attract the target audience to a site. Unlike search engine optimization, such advertising has a quick, but short-term effect and requires payment for each transition to the site.

What is contextual advertising

An ad that appears in a search engine or on a site is contextual advertising. The content of this ad may be similar to the theme of the website or may depend on the key phrase entered by the user.

Conducting contextual advertising helps to solve such problems:

  • attracting new visitors to the site;
  • increase sales through the Internet;
  • advertising a new resource to a wide audience;
  • message about the action and price update;
  • improving the image and increasing the brand reputation;
  • launch of a new product on the market.

The search context looks organically in the SERP and is highlighted with a small mark under the heading:
Contextual advertising in search
On the websites, the advertisements are placed in the sidebar or at the bottom of the page after the main text. Their content coincides with the requests stored in the user's browser cookies:
Contextual advertising on the partners' websites

Types of contextual advertising

Depending on the place of display, advertising is divided into search and thematic. The first is issued in a search engine, the second — on sites, in mobile applications, and other resources included in the advertising network.

To become a member of it and place someone else's ad, the site must pass a search for relevance and authority on the part of search engines.

Therefore, before launching the context, it is important to refine the site and make it as useful as possible for visitors. If the site is not attractive, and the content is irrelevant — there is a high probability of wasting the budget.

Formats of contextual advertising

Text. Presented in the form of information with a built-in link.
Contextual advertising example
Banner. Displayed as a graphic banner with a hyperlink.
Example of banner contextual advertising
Video advertising. Presented by video with a link to a promoted resource.
Video contextual advertising example
Thematic advertising is focused on momentary user requests. Graphic and video advertising requires a creative approach, as it often offers goods or services, the acquisition of which a person thinks for a long time. All contextual advertising formats are configured differently.

What should be the advertisement

  • Related topics with the site or request history of a particular user;
  • attractive in design, but not too bright;
  • informative and understandable for your audience;
  • unique in design and text.

Context only affects the target audience, so each word in an ad should sell. If a banner is used, the image should have an attractive image in the subject of the advertisement.

How to set up contextual advertising

You can determine to whom and where your advertisements will be displayed by yourself. To do this, you need to set individual campaign options in Google Adwords or other contextual advertising services.

Google is considered to be the most advanced, as it offers the maximum number of settings that allow you to specify more accurate display options for advertisements.

Pros and cons of contextual advertising


  • Quick results after launching an advertising campaign;
  • wide audience reach for key requests;
  • payment for the result (go to your site);
  • the ability to edit the campaign after its launch;
  • control of advertising, analytics using online tools;
  • appeal to the target audience;
  • universality regarding the advertised products.


  • Committing inappropriate clicks by competitors, which leads to a budget drain (click);
  • the high cost of click in a competitive subject;
  • users using ad blockers;
  • banner blindness, irritation from people;
  • lack of direct influence of advertisements on search engine promotion.

What is PPC?

Payment of contextual advertising is most often made for each click (Pay-Per-Click). PPC is a model that implies payment by the advertiser for each visit to the site, rather than showing the ad.

The advertiser pays the search engine or the owner of the online platform on which his ad is placed. The cost of a click is determined by the level of competition in the niche, the CTR, and the relevance of the landing page.

The clickthrough rate is determined by the formula:
CTR formula
The higher this indicator, the lower the payment for each click, and the higher the effectiveness of the advertising campaign. The relevance of the landing page is determined by the average time spent on it, the percentage of failures, the uniqueness of the content, the presence of links, and other factors.

It is believed that setting up Google Adwords contextual advertising is the most difficult for beginners and more suitable for large companies. If this tool is difficult to understand on your own, and alternative options do not suit you, you can order contextual advertising from specialists.

Remarketing and retargeting

Through contextual advertising, you can reach people who once visited your site. Advertising campaign settings allow specifying who to show the ad for.

For example, you can remind a person that he left a product in the basket and did not buy it. You can set the ad display period so that it does not annoy a former site visitor months later.
How does remarketing work in Google Ads
Remarketing and retargeting are related concepts that are configured using contextual advertising tools and social networks.

In addition, you can specify the geographic area of the ad to be displayed only to interested persons in a particular country, city, or area (geo-targeting).


Setting up contextual advertising involves creating an ad and choosing the target audience to which it will be directed.

Using Google Adwords and other tools, you can set individual parameters for displaying ads. Typically, an advertiser pays for each click (PPC basis).

A contextual advertising specialist is able to fine-tune the display of an ad exclusively to those users who are interested in your product.

Effective contextual advertising increases the flow of traffic to the site, increases the sales or popularity of the company, depending on your goals.

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