Advertising Guest Columns
4 mins read

A contextual revolution for publishers

“It’s been a year like no other.” I’m sure you’ve likely heard that statement every week this year since March. The statement also applies to the advertising industry. Specifically, publishers have been impacted as many brands have spent part of the year reducing ad spend to weather a global pandemic.

However, alongside its challenges, there are strong reasons for growth. The rise in digital content consumption, growth in Connected TV (CTV) usage, further innovation for programmatic advertising and a shift towards brand suitability, are all welcome and positive signs for the digital advertising industry.

Why context

In light of this, there has been much discussion about context, brand suitability and the overzealous blocking of ads by advertisers looking to protect their brand reputation online by avoiding content they deem inappropriate.

The context in which an ad shows up, that is, the relevance of an ad in relation to the content of a page in which it is advertised, has most recently hit the advertising scene due to its power in effective audience targeting. Targeting a user based on the type of content they are consuming on the page can prove effective. Not to mention, it provides a viable alternative for cookieless audience targeting.

Context matters for publishers, too

But why should publishers care? In the end, a publisher’s role is to monetize their content and maximize their yield by selling inventory. Right? Yes, but it’s also in their interest to sell the best inventory. In an age of programmatic buys and advertisers seeking to maximize ROI, premium inventory – or cleverly packaged inventory that means an advertiser can reach their target audience – can attract the highest-bidding advertisers.

What do consumers say about context?

In November, Integral Ad Science (IAS) published research that highlighted the importance of context and sentiment in digital ads. The Power of Context research discovered that:

  • The overwhelming majority (81%) of consumers prefer to see ads that match the content that they are viewing.
  • Seven out of ten (70%) consumers state that they are more likely to remember an ad when it appears next to contextually relevant content online.
  • 70% also said that the surrounding content on a page impacts their perception of an online ad and its brand.
  • To emphasise, roughly two-thirds (65%) of British consumers have a more favourable opinion of brands that serve them contextually relevant ads.

What do consumers say about sentiment?

The contextual research also explored how sentiment – whether the tone of content is negative, neutral or positive – influences consumers and their perception of a brand.

Research discovered that almost three-quarters of UK consumers (73%) feel that the sentiment of an article impacts their perception of a brand that has advertised alongside it.

When presented with examples, consumers were more receptive to content with positive and neutral sentiment. When an ad appeared next to a positive headline, consumer receptivity increased by up to 39% and favourability by up to 19% when compared to the negative headline.

Industry-wide team effort

Innovation in advertising technology impacts publishers as much as it impacts advertisers. Advertisers will always need to protect their brand message and reputation online. So, publishers will need to work closely with their buy side partners to understand their concerns and unique tolerance for risk.

Contextual relevance in digital advertising is an industry-wide team effort. It seems obvious, but buyers and sellers need to communicate clearly. The advertiser has their objective in mind – to create maximum impact from ad placements – and to achieve this, they use a number of platforms and technologies.

Similarly, publishers want to attract the best advertisers by highlighting the unique offerings of their inventory and content. Yet, on occasions, the strategies of either party is unknown to the other, thereby missing a valuable opportunity for advertisers and publishers to suit each other’s objectives.

IAS is working closely with publishers to intelligently and more precisely categorise their inventory through the use of contextual technology. Publishers can package their content to best align with an advertiser’s specific brand safety and suitability requirements.

Contextual revolution 

Contextual relevance is a revolution happening for both advertisers and publishers. It’s one that is improving monetisation of inventory for publishers and helping them drive better results for brands.

Offering premium inventory that is contextually relevant allows publishers to generate a greater return. With real-time content suitability matching, publishers are able to increase the price of their existing inventory, effectively manage special customer projects, and make the most of under-utilised content such as blogs and user generated content.

Collaboration here is key. The simultaneous collaboration between brands, publishers, and verification partners creates an effortless online experience and maximises returns for publishers.

Paul Nasse
Managing Director, Northern Europe
Integral Ad Science

Integral Ad Science (IAS) is the global market leader in digital ad verification, offering technologies that drive high-quality advertising media. IAS equips advertisers and publishers with the insight and technology to protect their advertising investments from fraud and unsafe environments as well as to capture consumer attention, and drive business outcomes. IAS is headquartered in New York with global operations in 22 offices across 13 countries.