Contextual ads are placed based on an algorithm that studies the words that the user is writing or reading. It’s a great theory in practice. But it can go horribly wrong. Check out what iMedia Connection published that exemplify these kinds of disasters:

(If you don’t understand what’s the big deal: First, read the headline of each news article. Then, look at what the ad copy next to each article says.)

You won’t get these kinds of mistakes if you target consumers with permission-based emails and texts. As I’ve said before, unlike online ads based on algorithms, opt-in messaging is the best targeting tool of all.