It's no great revelation that contextual advertising helps marketers reach users who may be more in a browsing or surfing mode, whereas search is far more direct. They're less goal-oriented, a notion you'll find reflected in your campaign metrics (contextual often doesn't return the same results as search for ROI-based media). This is because there's a wider gap in the timeliness and attentiveness of the audience that's being exposed to these advertisements and a greater presumptiveness in those advertisements being served.

Still, there's no doubt that contextual can be highly effective in achieving more general messaging and brand exposure goals. The following is a list of four types of contextual advertising and the implications of each. This list is not exhaustive, but should serve as a starting point for businesses looking to deepen their knowledge and understanding of this medium, and the discrepancy between these SEM products.

1. Search-based Contextual

This type if exemplified by Google's AdSense program. We believe this is one of the best types of contextual. Even though the advertisement is essentially 'forced' on the user, this type of contextual program allows the advertiser to target content inclusive of very specific verbiage. The more specific the verbiage, the more likely you can control the focus of your ad environment.

Google AdSense and the Yahoo! Publisher Network are especially useful in their potential for corporate communications and outreach programs. SEM can provide a solution to PR challenges, either by expanding the reach of current efforts or by fostering a greater acceptance of outbound media messages.

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