New data shows contextual targeting is driving brand safety and favorability

contextual targeting

Paul Goldbaum, Chief Technology Officer, Seedtag

In a very top-level approach, return on investment is among one of the top-ranking KPIs that brands prioritize when it comes to ad campaigns. However, in an online world filled with misinformation, fake news and unsafe content, brand image and favorability also need to be a top consideration ahead of executing digital campaigns.

Of course, advertisers want to serve their ads to the most relevant users, but this should never be at the sacrifice of brand safety. Fortunately, as a result of contextual targeting, brands can not only remain protected, but they can significantly enhance their favorability, ensuring that ads are being associated with safe and relevant content while capturing attention, engaging more consumers and producing positive reactions.

Contextual targeting is fueling positive associations

Negative content — anything that is plagiarized, false, misleading or based on bias or insufficient evidence — plagues the online world. Naturally, brands want to avoid serving ads on these pages. Similar to how Apple never lets villains in films or TV shows use iPhones, brands want to remove themselves from these situations because of the negative connotations that come from being associated with them. The same goes for online ads.

Fortunately, brands can avoid negative content quite easily. By utilizing contextual targeting, brands can serve ads alongside more appropriate content. This not only ensures stronger brand safety but also helps advertisers reach audiences in a more positive mindset at the point when they are exposed to these ads.

According to research undertaken by MetrixLab in conjunction with Seedtag, when ads were delivered without contextual targeting, 12% of respondents felt that the ad was on a webpage that made them feel negative about the brand. In comparison, only 5% of respondents felt this way when in-image ads were delivered through contextual targeting.

Contextual ads are improving brand favorability

Clearly, it is highly important to place ads with brand safety in mind. While contextual targeting allows brands to do this seamlessly, it also greatly enhances brand favorability.

A recent study conducted by TAG and BSI showed just how important brand safety is to advertisers — using COVID-19 misinformation to demonstrate their point. The survey found that more than 85% of consumers would reduce or stop purchasing products they regularly buy if they discovered an ad for that product had run next to COVID-19 conspiracy theories or misinformation. Furthermore, the same could be said if a favorite brand advertised near hate speech (89%), malware (92%), illegal content (89%) or terrorist recruiting materials (93%). Negative content has a significant impact on consumer behavior.

In comparison, MetrixLab and Seedtag found that when combining contextual targeting and in-content advertising placements, brands are not only being associated with safe and relevant content, but their ads are also fully integrated into the article’s visual content. This was found to improve brand favorability by up to 22%.

By overlaying contextual technology on ad buying, brands can ensure that any ads served are aligned with the content that target audiences are consuming at the exact time of exposure, which matches interest in real time. As a result, brands create a stronger fit between themselves and the content where they are serving ads. In fact, 69% of our respondents agreed that ads fit the page well when delivered through in-image contextual targeting. When delivered without contextual targeting, this outcome almost halved, dropping to 36%.

It is clear that there is a positive correlation between ads and their relevance to the content with which they are being served. In fact, IAS found that a staggering 70% of consumers believe that contextual advertising relevance is at least “somewhat important.”

These findings are reinforced by the MetrixLab and Seedtag study, where 59% of respondents also claimed that they liked the fact that the ads they were being served were related to the content they were reading about. The preference is clear, and this translates into deeper brand favorability and a stronger emotional response from consumers. The ability to target audiences based on real-time content consumption works to the benefit of all parties — content providers, advertisers and consumers.

Study: contextually targeted in-video ads improve message recall

Contextual targeting keeps brands safe and favorable, but the placement also helps them go the extra mile and be impactful.

Brands want to be remembered. Being safe and favored helps but it doesn’t necessarily make a company stand out. By utilizing contextually targeted in-video ads, brands can create a significant increase in the performance of their campaigns. Compared to common video ads, in-image video advertising and contextual targeting lead to stronger recall and memorability, helping to make advertising efforts land better with consumers and create a stronger impact.

MetrixLab and Seedtag’s research found that message recall can improve by as much as four times that of ads that are served without in-image video advertising. Furthermore, brand favorability increases by 370% and purchase intent rises by 390%.

It’s a seemingly simple switch, but the results speak for themselves. Suddenly a brand is well remembered. Messages are not only delivered well but received and recognized.

The post-cookies future is contextual

By leveraging contextually targeted in-content ads, brands can improve the efficiency and impact of their digital advertising. If a campaign utilizes a consumer’s natural inclination to look at imagery featured within content pages, the stats show that it will soon find success.

Contextual targeting allows brands to reach the right audience at the right moment without the need for cookies. It helps to capture attention, driving stronger viewability and maximizing the impact of impressions. Customers remain engaged, spending more time on in-image ads and offering brands a better opportunity to communicate their messages. And finally, it produces more positive reactions. Brands can generate stronger feelings and emotions and improve purchase intent. Meanwhile, brand safety remains at an all-time high.

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