Broadcast giant Clear Channel has launched “contextual advertising,” a method of placing radio spots against news, songs, or other ads that might spur interest in a product. GEICO, for instance, tested the service by running its :15 second spots for vehicle insurance directly after radio ads for other vehicles — the idea being that listeners who perk up at the promo for the new Ford Flex might then be more attuned to an ad for car insurance. If people only listen to what they want, why not place ads that mirror that content?
Contextual advertising has a range of performance. With Google pay-per-click Adwords, placement next to search results works brilliantly. With Google Adsense, which chases themes in written content, not so much, and online banners are often so problematic that ad blogger Bill Green has a list of placement offenses he calls contextual madness. We also wonder how chasing microcosms of content might limit inventory, and thus lead to radio schedules without appropriate frequency (repeat impressions) to build awareness. Still — ad relevance tied to content. Good for you, radio; why should the Internet have all the fun?