What state of mind are you in when you read your favorite news source, check sports scores, or gossip sites? What about when you are in the market for something (could be a car, could be a new recipe for dinner, information on health matters, whatever) or when you just need to connect, to feel like the people, places and opinions that matter most to you are close and accessible?
Despite all the digital analytics, it's surmising your state of mind that is the ultimate goal: are you searching car sites because you are in market or because you just love to see new cars, or maybe you need to know what is coming down the pike in automotive offerings because your job requires it?
What emotions are triggered by content is why endemic advertising is so highly prized. Knowing someone is actively engaged reading about new car models is one indicator that they may be in market for purchasing a car soon. Medical information about specific conditions is valuable to marketers of medicine for that condition because people who have the condition, or those that treat them, read it closely. That's why one of the most time-honored ways advertisers choose to engage with their intended customers is via association with content that triggers emotions, matching what the marketer hopes to activate - association and action because the state of mind is ripe for what the marketer is offering.
When considering context, online widens the options for marketers in surprising ways. When your message is associated with content that is aligned with your message, the 'halo' effect heightens the message's impact. For example, most of us care about safety features in the cars we drive, but it's not necessarily the only reason we choose to buy one model over another. While reading an article on safety measures for children, ads highlighting features specifically about car models and brands in the context of safety can greatly increase engagement and improve brand metrics for the advertisers.
Since few can afford to place their message indiscriminately to the fragmented masses, consider all options of filtering to find your ideal consumer at the ideal time. This has been the promise that's fueled mobile marketing's growth for years now. It's also why audience segment targeting is widely used. However, in the rush to target exactly the right people at the exact right time, we sometimes overlook the most powerful association available: contextually relevant content.
Bottom line: if you put your brand in context, within content that is aligned with your product or service, and associated with the brand promise, you will gain valuable impact. Just because placing ads in context within specific content is an age-old technique for heightening advertiser results, doesn't mean it's no longer valuable. Indeed, today's fragmented audience and marketplace make context even more important than ever.