Commentary

Maybe That's Why They Call It Contextual Marketing

Zefr, the video ID and advertising tech company that knows more about what content exists on YouTube than probably anybody else in the business, has been easily convincing advertisers for some time now that a relevant ad placed against relevant YouTube content is usually a great way to get a message across.

As logical as that sounds, a study of the effect of contextually congruent ads and content, has never been done, or so the company says.

And now it has. Zefr joined with IPG Media Lab to explore how context aids recall and purchase and recommendation. The research itself took more than a year to complete.  

No surprise. Contextual targeting seems to matter, compared to other logical ways to place ads.

“The Power of Relevance:Content, Context and Emotions” out today, studied 8,600 consumers, showing them the same video ads across all kinds of content.  

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For example, study subjects were shown a brand’s ad and a YouTube video that matched the brand's demographics. Or an ad matched with the kind of content the brand usually targets. And finally, an ad whose content is contextually similar to the YouTube content that’s shown--like, to pick an obvious one, a diaper ad before an instructional video about picking the safest infant car seat.

Advertisers participating in the study included Miller Coors, Sony, Dr Pepper/Snapple, BMW and another  “major auto brand,” and likewise unnamed “major insurance brand.”

When that contextual match is applied, 73% of consumers felt the ads complemented the overall video experience. That’s far better than that ad shown without context. 

Contextually relevant ads are perceived as far more educational, entertaining, Interesting, authentic and “uplifting,” this study says.

‘It’s really like the ads in Vogue magazine,” says Dave Rosner, Zefr’s executive vice president of strategic marketing. “The ads work so well because they go with the content.” With Zefr’s knowledge of YouTube content--where, arguably, there are bushels of videos for just about every conceivable subject on Earth--it is very possible to match apple videos with apples ads, and end up with a bushel of apple consumers.

“It’s more than granular than just matching demographics and location,” he says. In fact, a good contextual match “even beats a good story. No matter how good the story in your ad is, if it’s not relevant at that moment, an advertiser should just save their money.”

The Zefr study suggests contextual targeting is the tonic for ad blocking, which the study says has grown to 181 million active installs last year, compared to just 54 million in 2013. To Rosner, that rebellion is a result of consumers who are “just sick of advertising because it’s irrelevant,” which is always the positive spin on the growth of blockers.

Here’s an interesting flip-side development. Advertisers that try “conquesting”--that is, placing an ad before a video that features a competitive brand in an attempt to steal the halo--usually are doing themselves no favors. That ruse barely works over other ways of placing ads--by audience or YouTube channel type.

And it actually hurts recall. In the end, The Power of Relevance study concludes, conquering ads lose, in terms of recall, brand favorability and purchase intent.

As I’ve indicated, a lot of the results in this study seem to be no-brainers. Like, it's not so surprising that a happy ad matched with happy content scores best on favorability and recommendation indexes, and a plus 17% on purchase intent. 

Likewise, it’s not real brilliant to put a very serious ad before happy content. In that mix-and-match type, purchase intent rises just 3%. So don’t do that!

pj@mediapost.com

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