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Context requires anthropological input

News, 05 May 2015

LONDON: Media planners placing contextual ads should look beyond established parameters and consider how anthropological learnings can enable them to use their budgets more effectively, an industry figure has said.

Tom Laranjo, managing director at Total Media, argued in Admap that when it comes to contextual advertising – the focus of the current issue – marketers have focused on the "four pillars" of time, location, device and content, but neglected anthropology.

Advertising technology now enables them to deliver better targeted, more relevant content at the right time to receptive consumers, but while this was once regarded as the holy grail for media planners, it is no longer enough.

Brands now need to consider not just when people consume information, but how they use it, the value they assign it, how they share, and more: "We shape our interactions with [digital] to our own preferences," Laranjo noted.

And one lesson media planners can take from this, he advised, is to treat the vogue for multiscreening with caution.

Humans can shift between tasks but can only concentrate on one cognitive function at a time, he said; attempting to genuinely multitask is thus likely to result in reduced focus and ability to remember.

Accordingly, he recommended directing media spend to those areas where the target audience was less distracted. As regards his own work, "We do not leverage tri-screening behaviour unless we can see a benefit," he stated.

The possibilities location offers for contextual ads are clear, but Laranjo cautioned that "not all locations are equal", as people may react differently to the same message depending on where they receive it.

So, for example, it is one thing to be able to deliver a particular ad to a person on their desktop when they're at work, quite another to serve it to their tablet when they're at home.

He cited work on "social capital" to suggest that advertising might be better restricted "to fields that more specifically match the environment to which the content is suited".

That could mean adding geo-fencing to ensure B2B ads, for instance, are only served in certain locations, such as those where people are at work and more likely to be receptive to the message.

Data sourced from Admap