If your ad platforms provide brand protection, what you have delivered is as important as brand awareness. With behavioral ad targeting via a number of digital platforms, the context in which your company’s ad appears can prompt any potential reaction, from irritating your customer to offending them. When selling business-to-business (B2B), it is important that your ads are served to your customers in a professional context. The best context for a developer: Viewing the products and brands that matter to them, surrounded by the content that matters to them.

How can targeted advertising backfire?

Targeted ads can backfire when they are shown in an incongruous environment or in conjunction with upsetting or offensive images or text.  In the first case, the customer is annoyed by the interruption. In the second case, the customer associates your brand with something negative. Either way, your brand is damaged.

The impact of context on the effectiveness of digital ad targeting

The goal is to deliver a more personal experience. However, there are a number of ways that the content context that surrounds the advertising can undermine this desired effect.

If the text/video context of the ad is not similar, it is jarring for the consumer. This loses the effect of a personal experience.
Ads targeting consumers of professional/business products that show up on websites and media sites that focus on more personal interests, family, and hobbies are jarring, and seem forced and impersonal. “They just don’t get me” is the impression.
Ads juxtaposed with tragic news seem tone deaf and make your brand look callous.
Ads in the context of something offensive or shocking can make your brand look opportunistic. They can become linked to a horrifying image or news, or make the  business look incompetent. All of these impressions lead to damaging your brand and repulsing your customer.

So why does targeted advertising get used so often?

Targeted advertising within a display network is attractive because it allows you to segment and serve ads to customers based on their search engine use, geography, demographics or behavior in more than one environment.

How to avoid context confusion for advertising

Blind display targeting toward participating sites can be avoided by placing ads in professional communities whose media sites are for your target customer in the context of their professional lives. If your target market is developers and your product is a developer tool, which ad platforms provide brand protection? The ad platform that provides the best brand awareness also delivers brand protection (hint: it delivers advertising in developer-to-developer communities (D2D communities).

What does a developer-to-developer community context deliver?

First and foremost, advertising in a D2D community gives you all the benefits of traditional targeting, without any of the drawbacks. In fact, in terms of targeting qualified leads, the D2D community is better qualified and better quantified than a display network ad distribution model. The D2D community ad placement also delivers the following four things traditional targetting can’t:

Credibility.  D2D communities are built by developers for developers.
Places like CodeProject, Hanselman.com, and Sweetcode.io provide content written by developers for developers. Developers visit these sites to solve genuine technical problems, find out about the latest and greatest tools, show off their knowledge, and have tech water cooler conversations.  These sites provide a genuine “word-of-mouth” experience for developers who use them as a resource for doing their jobs. Having your ad appear within these D2D communities lends your brand automatic credibility.

Audience and market receptivity
Developers visiting a D2D community expect to see content related to solving problems they encounter doing their jobs. That’s why they are there! So when they view a tool or solution advertisement, they are more likely to examine it and follow up. (But not if it pops up next to their best friend’s wedding pics.)

If your company produces solutions for developers, and your solution appears with content about problems that developers encounter, your ad and content ring true. The authenticity of the surrounding content acts as an endorsement of your ad. It’s not intrusive or jarring—It is part of the D2D conversation.

Demonstration of community support
Similarly, when your company and brand show up in a D2D community, it demonstrates your support of the community. Your logo is seen as part of the images encountered among the community. Your ad is part of supporting that community. Your presence is a demonstration of support, not just a grab for their business.


Digital ad targeting can be a powerful, personalized way to reach your customer.  The effect is ruined if the context of the stories, images, and videos surrounding your ad is incongruent with your brand ID and product.  Developer Media can overcome this problem by using its community of developer websites to ensure ads are served in the context that content developers care about—e.g. the dialogue of other developers.   Ad placement within the D2D community demonstrates your brand’s support and participation within the developer community, legitimizing your brand, increasing authenticity, and delivering your message where your customer is most receptive to it.

About Yolanda Fintschenko

Yolanda is a scientist, writer, marketer, community leader and avid runner who lives and works in Livermore, CA.  Yolanda started out in the field of lab-on-a-chip at Sandia National Labs. After having to transfer technology to industry, she moved to industry to build an international marketing team of scientists to exert technical influence in the field of food safety for Thermo Fisher Scientific. She took that expertise to LabSmith to run marketing and sales.  At a small company, she discovered the significance of digital tools to amplify word-of-mouth, and is now a passionate advocate of a holistic digital marketing approach tailored to technical products and markets as co-founder of FounderTraction.