Can Context Make Advertising More Effective?

Does advertising context affect consumers’ perceptions and response to the advertising? If so, how does context affect ad performance? Ignoring context, whether it’s a message adjacent to an ad, the media platform/brand, the device, or when the ad is delivered, can be risky. In fact, context is likely to impact ad performance – positively or negatively – as six decades of research show. Read More.

Context Matters: Emotions and Ad Effectiveness

Aaron Hoffman, Ph.D. (Magid), Gregg Liebman (NBCUniversal)

This new research is the largest study on the effects of the context in which advertising is embedded on the ad, in 60 years of published context effects research. The study focused on TV shows as ad context and tested 60 ads in 31 programs after an even larger pre-test.
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When Longer Isn’t Necessarily Better

Mark Green, Dan Schiffman (TVision Insights)

TVision analyzes viewer-level TV attention data on a second-by-second basis in a “real-world” environment—in their panel’s living rooms. They measure: Is the TV on? Are people in the room? Are eyes-on-screen?
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How Advertising Works/ARF Original Research – The Creative Impact of Context Effects

Horst Stipp (ARF) and Duane Varan (Media Science)

In this “deep dive” session, building on the How Advertising Works Today presentation on the Conference stage, Duane Varan presented the findings from a new original ARF research project.

Duane stated that the issue of context effects has grown in importance, especially in light of programmatic buying which often discounts such effects. Further, Duane thinks that industry research has limited utility and that the academic literature on this subject is weak.

This lack of systematic research, the inconsistent body of literature and the industry’s failure to analyze the reasons for these differences has made reaching conclusions difficult and calls for more research.

Research questions considered in this new study by Media Science:

  1. Are certain emotional states (as elicited by content) better or worse for the ads that follow?
  2. Do ads benefit from being aligned with the emotional drivers of the context they are placed in?

Phase 1 examined emotional transfer effects. Participants were exposed to program clips eliciting specific emotions (neutral, humor, thinking, sadness, fear, excitement, surprise).

Each clip was then followed by one of 7 rotated ads:

This experiment confirmed that there is contextual transfer: ad perceptions are likely to be affected by the content. However, the impact may, or may not be positive. For example, in this study ads following humor were liked more but recalled less.

Phase 2 examined emotional alignment effects. Participants were exposed to ads with either an emotionally aligned or a misaligned context. The study thus explored, for example, what is the impact of a funny program on a funny ad compared with an ad that was not funny?

The experiment confirmed that alignment can boost the impact of a commercial, but it challenges “the universal alignment argument.” The study found that sentimental, storytelling ads in similar programs benefitted from alignment. In contrast, in this study, funny commercials in funny programs failed to benefit from the alignment.

Duane reminded the audience that additional research is needed. He pointed out that this is a complex issue with a lot of variability. Alignment does work, but the effects are specific and vary considerably by program/ad content match.

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