31st January 2018  |  

Context, content and environment will be key for advertising in 2018

Even before GDPR moved to the forefront of everyone’s mind, content, context and environment were having a revival.

One of the oldest rules in marketing was that context matters. The problem is, we were so sure of this, we never tried to prove it. One good thing to come out of the publisher fight back over the last few years is some incredibly intelligent and practical research to finally quantify this.

ComScore measured the value of premium sites over long-tail ones and found they were 3x more effective at shifting brand metrics. Newsworks and RAM partnered up to see what effect position, size and environment has on brand uplift. Peter Fields proved increased ROI for publisher heavy campaigns. LUMEN showed that people were 80% more likely to notice advertising on News brand sites. The debate is over, quality and context do matter for advertising.

There was much talk of the failings of digital in 2017: increased fraud, ad avoidance, a murky ecosystem and poor brand safety. Whilst no one party can be blamed, many have pointed the finger at programmatic and the obsession with targeting based historic browsing behaviour over the importance of current context. The upcoming GDPR can be seen as a response to this audience focused business model.

Along with the E-privacy directive, the GDPR may hamper many of the techniques that fuelled the programmatic ecosystem. Targeting someone purely based on their previous browsing behaviour will become much more difficult to do. Automated trading will remain, but many marketers will find themselves falling back on one of the oldest proxies in marketing: context and environment. What you are reading now can tell us what you are interested in. Where and when you are reading it tells us something about who you are and what frame of mind you are in.

Contextual advertising technology has not stood still in the last five years. Understanding content, context and meaning has been one of the fastest growth areas of machine learning in media, and not just for text.

Images, speech and video are being decoded at an industrial scale and with an incredible degree of accuracy (and with that, brand safety filters are getting better and better).

Eye tracking and brand uplift studies allow us to measure brand impact in near real time.

The move away from last click attribution and CTR as success measures means that the ‘branding’ part of the funnel can now be quantified. And as we know, it was performance marketing, with their last click models, that really drove the concept of retargeting at any cost.

GDPR has fuelled publisher collaboration in ways they never thought possible, and 2018 could see the kind of super premium publisher whitelist that just wouldn’t have been feasible a few years ago. Who needs the long tail of the web when a handful of quality publishers could hit 89% of the UK online population (ComScore December 2017).

It is clear that context, content and environment will be key in 2018. And publishers, who have always produced high quality content, in a high quality environment, with enormous reach, and deep relationships with their readers, should be in a great position to benefit.

By Bedir Aydemir, Product Marketing & Insight Director