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High quality content casts positive halo over ad perception

August 19, 2019 | By Osbaldo Franco, Director, Research & Analytics – Integral Ad Science @integralads

Over the last decade, behavioral advertising has become the dominant approach to digital media buying. Empowered by sophisticated data-driven targeting technology, advertisers have zeroed in on desirable audiences, tacitly assuming that context is of little relevance. Major adjacency scandals and other brand suitability mishaps have offered empirical evidence against this assumption since 2017.

Furthermore, media and data creation are now increasing at near exponential rates, compounding the challenges surrounding brand safety management. IDC estimates that annual data creation will nearly quadruple from 12ZB to 47ZB between 2015 and 2020. Much of this expansion is driven by a shift in media consumption habits, with the mobile share of time spent with media expected to take over TV at some point in 2019.

Research commissioned by Integral Ad Science (IAS) in partnership with Neuro-Insight, a global leader in neuroscience-based market research, highlights the impact of content over ad perception. Findings from the report showed that high quality sites produced significantly better engagement and memorability compared to low quality sites. More importantly, an ad running next to high quality content was perceived more favorably than when the same ad was viewed in a low-quality site.

The study measured the neurological reaction of participants during a 30-minute mobile experience across four key metrics: favorability, engagement, emotional intensity and long-term memory encoding. Each participant visited eight pre-selected mobile sites evenly split into high- and low-quality as defined by IAS’s proprietary brand risk score. (High quality sites include low brand risk properties and low quality sites include moderate brand risk properties. This excludes explicit adult and violent content.) Three ads from major brands spanning the auto, CPG, financial services, technology and retail industries were embedded into each site.

Quality content drives engagement

Consumers visiting sites deemed as high quality exhibited 20% higher engagement than on low quality sites. In other words, premium publishers were capable of delivering highly involved audiences, primed to engage with relevant advertisements of matching quality levels.

Publishers who offer high quality, engaging content and utilize the necessary verification tools to protect their advertisers’ reputations, stand to gain incremental media budgets over their competitors. Over half of US marketers plan to increase ad spend with partners who have taken steps to protect against brand risk specifically.

Higher quality, higher memorability

Findings from the report also showed that high quality sites produced 30% greater memorability, offering advertisers a more conducive environment for long term memory transfer.

Transference from short term to long term memory is key as it indicates brand breakthrough–i.e., brand recall. Brand recall correlates with decision making and purchase intent, thus increasing the likelihood of conversion among consumers. Wouldn’t your advertiser want to place their dollars against media that drives tangible results?

Same ad, different reaction

High quality content provided an engaging and memorable experience among consumers, thus casting a halo effect that positively influenced ad perception. Findings from the Halo Effect report show consumers perceived an ad seen on high quality sites 74% more favorably compared to the same ad running on low quality sites. Ads running were not only “liked less” when seen in low quality environments, they were actively disliked by the consumer.

You’re already producing high quality, premium content for your audience. Considering eight-in-ten US marketers plan to reduce spend with publishers who do not meet their expectations, it is crucial to make sure you have a clear brand safety strategy in place as well in order to maintain your contextual advantage. 

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