Context Is Having Its Moment (But It’s Always Been King), With Grapeshot Co-Founder John Snyder

John Snyder, co-founder, Grapeshot

Keyword blocklists are blunt instruments, and yet they persist in programmatic media buying.

For a brand to use global keyword blocklists without considering the specific domain or campaign parameters is “most inappropriate,” says contextual advertising pioneer John Snyder on this week’s episode of AdExchanger Talks.

Snyder is the former CEO of Grapeshot, one of the earliest contextual targeting companies on the programmatic scene.

He founded Grapeshot in 2006 with Dr. Martin Porter, a researcher and mathematician at Cambridge University. Oracle bought Grapeshot in 2018, and the technology was later integrated into the Oracle Data Cloud along with ad verification service Moat, which Oracle had acquired the year before.

But back to blocklists, “I mean, why not curate your words per campaign?” Snyder asks.

It’s a good question. And an agency or tech provider saying they’re too busy isn’t a great answer, he says.

“A lot of people in ad tech position themselves as time poor and they’ve got a lot to do,” Snyder says. “[But that’s] dangerous, because they might not be creating what’s in the brand’s best interest.”

Also in this episode: Snyder’s investment of both time and money in contextual AI startup Illuma, the nuanced but important difference between brand safety and brand suitability, a behind-the-scenes look at how the Oracle deal came about, a hot take on the Digital Services Act in Europe and the finer points of kitesurfing.

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