Magic of Mindset: How Contextual Strikes a Chord with Viewers – Before They Hit “Skip Ad”

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By Eric Visser, CEO at JustPremium, a GumGum Company, and Peter Wallace, SVP of Sales, EMEA at GumGum

Like the tectonic plates that shift beneath our feet, the digital advertising industry is in a state of flux. The landscape as we know it is changing dramatically, driven by a series of dynamic forces that create both opportunities and risks.

The global spread of privacy legislation is one example, with even IAB Europe in breach of GDPR, and various US states following in the path of CPRA with third-party cookie phaseout, and it becomes clear that digital marketers need to tear up the rulebook on all that has gone before on targeting.

Digital video ad spend has an intriguing role to play in this new, post-behavioral universe that we find ourselves in. The channel is currently booming. But with such a large proportion of these ads being skipped and pre-roll ads especially unpopular with users, video ads are all too often ineffective for brands and feel invasive and irrelevant for consumers.

The Sweet Spot for Ad Alignment

Privacy-first contextual targeting, already on the rise, is key to a more robust solution. But in this rapidly evolving sector, not all technology is equal.

A recent study by GumGum in partnership with MAGNA is a case in point. The experiment, which included ad messaging from the likes of Estée Lauder and Century 21, sought to benchmark the impact of contextual video targeting versus cookies, as well as measure the difference between videos sourced contextually with metadata only (e.g. video title, video description, tags and so on) and those sourced with a contextual intelligence engine.

The results were striking. Contextual targeting is, in itself, a winning approach. The study showed it was 47% more effective than cookies at reaching the right people in video, by matching brands with relevant and suitable content.

Reaching the right consumers is not enough on its own, however. The study also found that consumer mindset is also a major variable: 61% of search intent impact was driven by the individual being in the mood for the brand’s message.

Again, contextual targeting held an advantage here: 60% of respondents said the contextual ad was “something I was open to at the right time”. Because the ad was relevant to the content people chose to watch in the moment, the consumer was in a relevant mindset when viewing that ad.

Creativity in the Spotlight

The takeaway from the MAGNA study is clear: reaching people when they are in a relevant mindset is the powerhouse behind contextual effectiveness. By drawing on a full spectrum of data within digital environments, contextual intelligence can bring human-like perception to decide what any given piece of video content is about. This allows it to reach the right people at the right time more powerfully than cookies or metadata alone.

Contextual targeting, however, is only part of the story. Creativity also has a huge role to play in designing a new era of video ads where the user experience takes centrestage. In an increasingly cluttered digital space, rich media formats by-their-nature allow a larger canvas for creative execution.

Partly this is a physical advantage. Ad units such as in-screen expandable videos, or expandable image animations, create a greater real estate opportunity for brand messaging. More importantly, however, the high-impact format makes room for greater finesse: ad creatives have the ability to innovate engaging and interactive digital concepts that resonate with users.

Add in contextually-relevant targeting and you have the perfect ingredients for an ad that finds the right audience and, just as importantly, captures their attention.

A New Model for a Consumer-Led Age

The average adult sees up to 10,000 online ads a day across a huge range of environments including mobile, outdoor display, gaming, and of course, the ever-lucrative channel of CTV. In this competitive setting, the decline of third-party data should be the industry’s cue to carve out more meaningful digital experiences with genuine brand appeal.

Creativity and contextual intelligence go hand-in-hand in this new reality, not just in video but across all digital channels. Working with cutting-edge AI tools, a contextual intelligence engine will reach the right person at the right time, delivering an ad that the consumer is open to receiving and “in the mood for”.

High-impact creatives then add a vital layer of finesse, capturing attention, and in a way that’s far more profound than illustrated by outdated CTR metrics.

Together, these two pillars can create the cornerstone of a new targeting strategy, whereby the end product is integrated seamlessly into all kinds of digital content, for messaging that is creatively compelling and on-point.