Out of Context: How Content Shapes Reader Interaction With Ads

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The sky is blue. Water is wet. Ads work next to related content.

All obvious statements, of course, but each is worth a deeper dive to get a more interesting answer.

(With the sky, for instance, sunlight is actually made up of all colors, but blue’s shorter waves make it the one we see. And with water, some argue that while it’s a “wetting agent,” it’s not itself actually wet.)

As for ads, there’s context beyond the mere proximity of an ad and content. In its report titled Four Fundamental Shifts in Advertising and Media, DoubleVerify has expounded on some of that context, making the obvious more actionable.

Contextual targeting being the focus, the study found that 69% of the 10,000-plus consumers surveyed worldwide are more likely to look at an ad that’s relevant to the content they’re seeing, with 44% having tried a new brand based on a relevantly placed ad.

The percentage of engagement varies based on the type of brand (see chart below), but much of DoubleVerify’s findings highlight that “the main challenge with contextual targeting is in understanding the true context of the content an ad appears beside.”

Best CRM for Magazine Publishers

Source: Four Fundamental Shifts in Advertising and Media

“This is more than simply understanding what each individual word means,” the study says. “It’s understanding the true ontological nuance, tone and subtlety inherent to any piece of content.”

More than half of consumers said their purchase decisions would be negatively impacted if they were to see a brand advertised beside false or misleading content. “As such,” the study says, “placements alongside fake news represent a greater risk of brand damage than placements alongside factual news on both war and natural disasters, which 41% and 35% respectively say would negatively impact their future purchase decisions.”

Best CRM for Magazine Publishers

Source: Four Fundamental Shifts in Advertising and Media

Most consumers (67%) are more likely to engage with an online ad of a publisher they trust. Additionally, most (53%) are more likely to look at ads on a homepage than in a different section. “So, while brands may be reluctant to appear beside a variety of possible news stories on a homepage, consumers aren’t opposed to seeing ads in this context,” the study says. “As a result, brands may consider setting specific strategies for high-traffic gateway pages, such as home — or section pages — in order to boost receptivity and reach.”

Increased consumption is also a factor affecting context as a larger whole. The study found that the time spent consuming content has doubled during the pandemic, with global consumers now spending 6 hours, 59 minutes each day (up from 3 hours, 17 minutes). That increase is seen across every content type as well, with 47% of consumers increasing their time reading online news.

Best CRM for Magazine Publishers

Source: Four Fundamental Shifts in Advertising and Media

In the last few months, 24% of consumers have subscribed to a free publication to get access to “trusted” information. “In part,” the study says, “this is due to the increasing importance consumers place on keeping pace with the fast-evolving news cycle, and recognition of the need to avoid fake or inflammatory news.”

Additionally, 22% of consumers expect to increase their time spent on news sites and apps post-pandemic. With more time spent and more opportunities for ad-fatigue, the importance of “less invasive” custom contextual targeting increases.

“This study highlights that consumer consumption habits are evolving in response to macro social and economic trends,” says DoubleVerify’s CEO Mark Zagorski, “from intensifying concerns about inflammatory or polarizing content, to a continued shift in the platforms and channels consumers are turning to for content consumption. Brands must react to these changing habits to ensure they reach the right audiences as efficiently as possible and maximize their digital investments.”

DoubleVerify highlights their platform’s ability to “place ads through custom contextual targeting.” Additionally, programmatic advertising in general helps publications get a better grasp of their advertising inventory.

Because once you understand your own content, the (blue) sky’s the limit.


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