For Digital Ads, Context Makes A Difference

For all the advantages of programmatic ad buying (like speed and volume), there’s still something to be said knowing where an ad will run, and understanding the mindset of the consumer when he or she sees it. 

According to new research from IRI and The Advertising Research Foundation, marketers who include relevant content strategies in their digital ad buying\ can increase their sales and increase their return on investment by as much as 30%. 

“For years, marketers have struggled to keep advertising costs down, and impact has all too often suffered,” says Bhanu Bhardwaj, senior vice president and principal of IRI Media Center of Excellence. “Technology has advanced to the point that marketers no longer need to trade efficiency for effectiveness.”

For the research, IRI evaluated three major CPG brands (including both food and non-food categories) to analyze breaks across individual campaigns. Digital ads that were placed on websites with higher thematic alignment and higher attention resulted in higher return-on-investment, Bhardwaj says. The research proves what many marketers have believed before: Context matters. 



“For the first time for digital advertising, we have real proof points that having context [understanding] is going to drive up sales and ROI,” Bhardwaj tells Marketing Daily. “There’s evidence that has been anecdotal, but this [study] makes it more concrete.”

Marketers, therefore, should be seeking programmatic solutions that not only target by demographic, but also look at the possible context that might arise from certain publishers, Bhardwaj says. “The benefit of context has not been a focus area for marketers,” she says. “We do expect context will play a much larger role in digital ad buying.

Having context play a larger role, however, does raise one more significant challenge, which is aligning creative messaging with the content on a publisher’s site, Bhardwaj says. “Making new creative is expensive,” she says. “As dynamic creative optimization becomes a reality, [that problem] should help. But it’s a missing piece that has to be addressed.”

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