Consumers Express Preference for Contextually Relevant Ads

March 28, 2023

This article is included in these additional categories:

Advertising Trends | Creative & Formats | Customer-Centric | Privacy & Security

Almost two-thirds (63%) of consumers prefer online ads to be related to the surrounding content they are consuming, more than 6 times the share of respondents who prefer contextually unrelated ads, according to a survey [download page] from Integral Ad Science.

Preference for contextually relevant ads is most often tied to those ads featuring products the respondent needs or providing additional product options, with many also saying their preference is due to the ads being more interesting or introducing them to interesting products.

Moreover, contextually relevant ads seem to engender more positive than negative feelings from respondents. Asked how they would feel towards brands whose advertised product is directly referenced in the surrounding content, 49% reported a positive feeling against 9% a negative feeling.

Likewise, 42% said they would have a positive feeling towards a brand’s ad that visually matches the surrounding content compared to 9% who would have a negative feeling. And positive feelings again outweighed negative ones for ads that draw thematic links between the surrounding content and the advertised product (39% and 10%, respectively).

By contrast, almost twice as many said that they would have a negative (35%) than positive (19%) feeling to an advertised product that is completely unrelated to the surrounding content.

The results bring to mind earlier research from Integral Ad Science in which about three-quarters (74%) of consumers said they like to see ads that match the content they’re viewing. This latest study also finds that contextually relevant ads are generally seen as less concerning by consumers from a privacy perspective than ads shown based on consumers’ online behavior. In other words, “contextual targeting is perceived as less of a privacy concern than cookie-based targeting,” as the report’s authors note.

The research comes as the industry shifts to a cookie-less approach. As Juan Mendoza writes in The Martech Weekly, “In the case of whatever happens after third-party cookies, contextual advertising is having its own renaissance moment — a rediscovery of the old to inspire the new.”

For more, download Integral Ad Science’s study, which also experimented with data-backed contextual segments, here.

About the Data: The results are based on a Q4 2022 survey of 1,113 US internet users.


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