BeOp Launches in US, Pointing to Contextual Campaigns’ Resurgence

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Is contextual ad targeting the answer to our cookieless future? As brand advertisers plan for a world without third-party cookies, they’re homing in on contextual ad platforms as a possible solution to their advertising woes. That push is leading to the development and growth of a number of platforms focused on contextual, conversational, and cookieless advertising.

Third-party cookies allow advertisers to track individual internet users’ behavior across the web and facilitate ads based on that behavior. By contrast, contextual advertising does not rely on individual user data; it serves ads based on the content users are reading or for which they’re searching. For example, someone reading about running on the New York Times site might get sneaker ads. Contextual’s independence from behavioral data collection is what’s driving its renewed popularity.

BeOp’s contextual ad play

One of the newest entrants into the U.S. market is BeOp, a conversational advertising platform based in France. While BeOp has been working in the space for years, the company’s move into the States comes at a time when many brands here are dealing with increasing privacy restrictions and limits on the collection of user data for ad targeting. Many of BeOp’s clients have international operations, so expanding into the U.S. is designed to help the company serve those clients in additional markets.

“The United States is the largest market for digital advertising, and it is the place where global advertising standards are created,” says BeOp CEO Louis Prunel. “It has been an obvious choice for us to jump in here because we have global ambitions plus a solid and unique offering that helps all advertisers and publishers to improve their branding campaigns while not having to worry about the rapid disappearance of data.”

BeOp is both distinct and parallel to programmatic, with a proprietary advertising system that offers advanced contextual targeting without relying on cookies or IDs. How does it work? Prunel says the BeOp platform has been designed from the ground up to work contextually, specifically in premium media environments.

BeOp’s ad placements are conversational units placed contextually on premium publishers’ articles. The units include polls, quizzes, forms, chatbots, and interactive videos that allow brands to engage with users without needing to rely on user data. According to BeOp, the company’s ad placements see average interaction rates of 1%, ranging from 0.4% to 8%, compared to the average 0.06% click rate on a banner ad.

Contextual’s resurgence

Private and public forces are driving the marketing industry’s increased interest in privacy and the rise of contextual advertising. Virginia just passed data privacy legislation, following California and foreshadowing more laws to come. In addition, Google is killing third-party cookies on Chrome, and Apple is downgrading mobile IDs. During the period of transition, publishers are expected to be cut off from a significant source of programmatic revenue, and brand KPIs for efforts focused on targeting tools could drop significantly.

Contextual advertising has undergone a major shift worldwide over the past few years to give end users more control over their personal data. In light of that evolution, Prunel says there is a good chance that either no one will be allowed to use user data to target in the future, or that the data and advertising decisional algorithms will be stored client-side to help prevent mass leaks of data.

“To those who find this extreme, I would point out that very few people have predicted the major shifts that are currently becoming reality, and I invite them to draw the curve which joins the points [showing] the evolution of privacy over time,” Prunel says. “It goes down to zero relatively quickly.”

As global advertisers grapple with new user data restrictions, they are coming to rely more on platforms like BeOp’s. Developed back in 2015 in response to the pending loss of access to data, BeOp now boasts an impressive client roster that includes heavy hitters such as Hyundai, Adidas, Amazon Prime Video, and Coca-Cola. The company’s platform is tailored to premium publishers’ articles, and solutions are built on AI-driven contextual tools such as semantic targeting and classification and traffic forecasting.

Prunel says his company brings deep expertise in helping clients navigate the privacy-first advertising landscape. Looking forward, he expects to see budgets increasing and more clients shifting away from social toward premium publisher experiences. 

“That’s why we created BeOp: to create the best-performing advertising system that uses all data that will always be available on publisher’s sites: article text and all contextual information, including their brands,” Prunel says. “I am convinced that branding budgets will flow back from social networks full of user-generated content to premium publishers again.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.