‘In-Context’ Web Ads Better for Brand Recognition, Ad Recall

November 2, 2007

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Advertising placed on relevant content pages on neutral and general-interest websites outperformed the same advertising on out-of-context pages, according to a pilot study conducted by OTX (Online Testing eXchange) and commissioned by ContextWeb, creator of online ad exchange ADSDAQ.

Moreover, the ad’s performance on in-context pages of neutral and general-interest websites equaled the performance of the same ad on a highly relevant website.

The study concluded that ads placed on relevant pages on neutral sites can provide many of the same advantages as those placed on highly relevant sites, and can potentially outperform those sites in ad and brand recognition.

The study tested a leading consumer electronics manufacturer’s ad on web pages in three different environments: a page on a typical consumer electronics-oriented website; the technology section of a leading national newspaper’s website; and a page in the online opinion section of the same newspaper.

The study found a nine-point lift (about 19%) in brand recognition when a computer ad ran on a technology page of a neutral site vs. a specific computer-electronics site page:


The study also found a 10-point lift in ad recall when a computer ad ran on a technology page of a neutral site vs. a specific computer-electronics site page:


In general, the data indicated clear superiority of ad effectiveness when the ad was in context – either on the relevant page or on the relevant website – versus the ad’s effectiveness when placed on the neutral opinion page.

Study summary:

  • The ad on the technology page of the newspaper’s site performed better than the same ad in the opinion section of the newspaper’s website, including ad recognition (the number of consumers who recalled seeing the ad) and brand recognition (being able to recall the brand being advertised); the contextually served ad also improved performance in communicating information about the product to consumers vs. the opinion page.
  • Comparing the results between the ad on the technology page of the newspaper’s site to the same ad on the computer website, showed equal performance as the (relevant) computer website in the ad’s ability to communicate meaningful information, its impact on likelihood to buy or consider the products being advertised, and its impact on consumers’ affinity for that brand.

About the study: OTX conducted this survey in October 2007 with 600 male and female respondents age 18-65 with household income of $35K+.

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