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How can we rebuild trust in advertising?

by Paul Thompson

June 15, 2022

Consumer favorability and interest in advertising has arguably reached its lowest point. The growing hostility toward advertising has forced brands to seriously reconsider their marketing strategies. Whether driven by privacy concerns or the perception of many ads as being intrusive and irrelevant, marketers are not only tasked with trying to enhance the reputation of their brand, but of advertising as a whole. While this is an immense challenge for advertisers, if they are able to leverage the right technologies, they can turn it into an opportunity to win over consumers and rebuild their trust.

It is important to remember that advertising will always be placed alongside content, which means advertisers will always have to deal with the task of ensuring that their ads feature alongside content that is relevant to their desired audience. Marketers are aware of the positive effects of being associated with high quality content and are constantly searching for the solution that would allow them to achieve that. Contextual advertising could be that solution.

Generating interest through context

In recent years, contextual advertising has transformed into an AI-driven process, where ads are placed on pages where content aligns with the interests of the desired audience, all without the use of cookies. Seedtag, alongside Nielsen, conducted research into the effectiveness of contextual targeting in generating interest in advertising and making consumers take further action.

1,800 UK consumers were surveyed across three different categories: food and drink, automotive and beauty products. These participants were also divided into four groups based on four different approaches within the industry: no targeting, demographic, interest-based and contextual. Overall, contextual targeting outperformed the other targeting methods, demonstrating how it could be the solution to the challenge of engaging consumers while building their trust.

We are exposed to thousands of advertisements every day, with the vast majority being ignored or forgotten about within seconds. It is harder than ever for brands to stand out in such a saturated advertising landscape, but adopting a contextual targeting approach could be the solution. According to Nielsen’s research, contextual advertising generated the most interest across all categories, 32% more than demographic targeting.

Driving action

The main purpose of advertising is to make consumers take further action. This could mean making a purchase, searching for further information or spreading positive messages about the product through word of mouth. In Nielsen’s research, contextual ads were proven to be the most effective at driving higher rates of interaction, especially for niche products.

As advertisers battle for a viewer’s attention in this saturated media landscape, every second counts. Research by Lumen into the effectiveness of various advertising formats in retaining a viewer’s attention showed that the longer an ad was in view, the more likely it was to lead to a sale. Contextual was the best performing format in the study, driving 3.3x more attention than IAB standard formats.

How do we change perceptions? The halo effect

The growing hostility towards advertising means marketers are not only tasked with ensuring positive perceptions of their brand, but also that advertising is seen as a force for good. When an advert is unintrusive and of high quality, it not only leads to a more positive perception of the ad itself, but the brand as a whole, creating a halo effect. Viewers that are served ads that are relevant to their interests are also more likely to be receptive to future advertising, as shown by Nielsen’s study. Contextually-targeted participants were the most likely to be open to future advertising, once again showing why contextual advertising is seen as such an effective way to engage consumers and change perceptions of advertising as a whole.

Advertising not only has the potential to change perceptions of brands with consumers, it can also change brands’ perceptions of which demographics may be interested in their products. In Nielsen’s study contextual ads were shown to increase interest in discovering new products, including within groups that were stereotypically not considered to be interested. For example, contextually-targeted male participants were just as likely to be interested in purchasing organic beauty products as their female counterparts. Breaking these stereotypes around certain products should allow brands to avoid ignoring certain groups of consumers that they may have ignored when using demographic targeting.

One of the great appeals of contextual advertising to brands is its ability to create a positive association between them and high-quality, brand safe content. This association between their ad content and the platform that hosts them should lead to the brand as a whole being seen in a positive light. If marketers are able to leverage this halo effect that this association creates, their brands will have a unique advantage when it comes to effectively engaging consumers and driving valuable growth.


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