How brands are reigniting interest in advertising with contextual targeting

Paul Thompson, UK country manager, Seedtag 

Concerns about online privacy, intrusiveness and irrelevant ads are driving consumer antipathy toward advertising as an industry. As a result, marketing teams face the increasingly difficult challenge of changing perceptions of their brand and ensuring that advertising as a whole is seen as a force for good. 

There is a prime opportunity for brands to innovate and reinvigorate their marketing strategies to more effectively engage consumers and ensure they build positive feelings for their brand. Seizing the opportunity starts with building trust and doing away with annoying and wasteful intrusiveness, replacing it with something of value and a fair exchange for a consumer’s hard-won attention.

However, this is much harder to achieve if ad content and brand values are not aligned with the hosting platform. Contextual advertising has the potential to help marketers overcome these challenges, delivering results just as effectively as hyper-targeting while at the same time promoting privacy, transparency and supporting high-quality content.

Context is crucial

Given its ability to target the right audience without cookies or the collection of personal data, contextual advertising is future-proofed against the radical privacy changes that have already been made by Apple and are soon to be implemented by Google. 

Contextual AI analyzes the visual and written content of a page, ensuring that ads are placed in an environment whose content and ideas align perfectly with the reader’s interests. 

Seedtag conducted research with Nielsen to analyze whether consumers are more receptive to ads embedded in the content in which they are already immersed.

The study involved 1,800 UK participants surveyed across three categories; automotive, food and drink and beauty. The consumers were divided into four groups based on different targeting approaches within the industry: no targeting, interest-based, demographic-based and contextual. 

In most cases, contextual targeting outperformed the other categories throughout the study, demonstrating its effectiveness as a way for brands to create positive associations with high-quality content while building valuable trust with their consumers. 

Generating interest and attention

Even at the dawn of the modern era of mobile screens and always-on content, estimates suggested that consumers were already being exposed to thousands of ads every day. Furthermore, Nielsen research in recent years shows that consumers’ memory of an ad can vanish overnight, meaning it’s harder than ever for marketers to generate attention and sustain interest for their brands. 

Adopting a contextual advertising strategy is one tactic to overcome the challenge of standing out and being remembered. Nielsen and Seedtag showed that contextual targeting was the most effective method in generating interest across all three categories and was 32% more effective than demographic targeting.

Previous research has also shown how effective generating interest and attention can be for driving increased sales. A study conducted by Lumen into the effectiveness of various ad formats in retaining attention found that the longer an ad was in view, the more likely it was to lead to a sale. Contextual ads held viewers’ attention the longest and drove 3.3x more attention than the IAB’s other standard formats. 

Leveraging the “halo effect”

Marketers and publishers are tasked with serving relevant content that can engage a highly demanding audience that may have concerns over privacy or irritation with poor ad quality.

According to the Nielsen study, contextual advertising can help overcome these perceptions. For example, 72% of targeted consumers contextually said they liked the ads they were served — the most of any category. They were also the most excited and least irritated by the ads they were served in this manner.

The study showed that consumers receiving contextually relevant advertising were the most likely to be open to future ad engagements. They considered the ads to be the most relevant to the surrounding content. As a result, contextual ads cement a positive relationship between the brand and consumers’ interests. This positive view of an ad leads to positive brand perception, creating a halo effect.

In addition to driving interaction rates, contextually placed ads have also been shown to drive new product discovery, including customer groups that marketers may not otherwise expect. 

The Nielsen study found, for example, that males interested in organic beauty products were just as likely to consider purchasing them as their female counterparts when presented with contextually relevant ads for this type of product. This means contextual ads may have the power to break consumer stereotypes otherwise reinforced by traditional demographic targeting methods. 

In a world where consumers are growing increasingly tired of being bombarded with advertising, it is more important than ever for marketers to take advantage of opportunities to build trust. Advertisers that can take advantage of new technologies alongside the right partners have a unique opportunity to create positive associations with their advertising. They can increase favorability toward their brand. If they can leverage this halo effect, they have a unique advantage in driving growth while building valuable trust.

Sponsored By: Seedtag

More from Digiday

What TikTok’s e-commerce launch could mean for marketers and content creators

TikTok has officially launched its new e-commerce platform, TikTok Shop, earlier this month on August 1. Using the new e-commerce platform, brands and creators can sell products directly on the platform, potentially creating new revenue streams, and tap into the short-form video platform’s growing popularity.

‘The influencer industry can be really vile’: Confessions of an influencer marketer on the industry’s unfair hiring practices

While the influencer industry might sound exciting and like it’s full of opportunities, one marketer can vouch for the horrific scenarios that still take place behind the scenes.

Digiday+ Research: Marketers said revenue grew in the last year, with more growth expected ahead

After a tumultuous 12 months, marketers are getting a clear picture of how they really did during a time of true uncertainty. And, as it turns out, it wasn’t all that bad.