You can't read an article or attend a conference without hearing marketers discuss the importance of reaching the right audience. Yes, audience does matter. However, your message might not get across to your audience if it's communicated in the wrong environment. There are three critical factors to consider when trying to make your message as impactful as possible: contextual relevancy, diverse site mix, and premium formats.
Contextually relevant content
High-quality content and beautiful, engaging advertisements are part of the ideal advertising environment. When an ad is placed on contextually relevant pages, users engage and react because the ad reflects the content that they're reading and creates a complete user experience.
Ads should be placed in an environment where a user will be most receptive to what it's saying -- one where the content on the site complements the brand's message. For example, a user is more likely to notice an ad for a healthy new granola bar when reading about nutrition than when looking up the weather forecast. In a soon-to-be-released study conducted by AOL and Vizu, results show that in some cases, brand lift was as much as three times higher on contextually relevant sites than run-of sites.
Diverse site mix
Many ad networks offer scale, but they achieve this scale by aggregating lots of long-tail independent blogs and touting them as super-content, when in reality their quality and engagement have not been proven. Users spend more time on premium sites. Recent research from Nielsen shows that seven out of 10 consumers have fewer than 20 sites in their core mix, where they spend 80 percent of their time. Running ads across a mix of established, trusted brands and influential niche sites is a more effective way to voice your message.
According to comScore, nearly one-third of online ads are never seen. Some of this is due to ad placement; a user might never scroll down and see ads located below the fold. However, according to an eye-tracking study performed by IPG Media Labs, banner blindness is still pervasive despite ad placement; creative plays an important part in combating this. Visually appealing ads that are striking, high-definition, and magazine-like will get noticed faster and keep a user's attention longer. Whether your goal is to improve emotional connection, engage your consumers, or increase purchase intent, beautiful ad and functional ad units showcased in an uncluttered environment will outperform standard units.
Brand marketers looking to make the most impact on their audience should look beyond pure audience targeting plays and strive to run ad placements in the most contextually relevant environments, across a diverse mix of sites, through visually appealing premium formats.
Anita Pollert is VP of publisher services for Advertising.com.
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