LONDON: Media context has a demonstrable effect on how people react to advertising, but even supposedly "poor" media environments can have a significant influence on message takeout, according to a new study.

Patrick Adams, head of strategy at Manning Gottlieb OMD, discussed the agency's recent research in this area in the current issue of Admap, the focus of which is context in advertising.

To discover more about how media placement contributes to people's subconscious perceptions of brands, two online questionnaires captured the explicit and implicit responses of 900-1,500 respondents to brands themselves and then to an existing campaign and one created for the study; three cohorts were shown the same series of ads, across TV, press, OOH and online but in different media environments and contexts, defined as premium, neutral and poor.

Adams reported that in each of the three scenarios most, if not all, of the explicit measures – brand awareness, consideration, perception and purchase intent – had risen between exposure to the brand and product alone and exposure to the advertising message and the amount of uplift differed according to the media context.

And in many cases this was most pronounced between the supposed 'best quality' campaign and the 'poorest quality' campaign – with likelihood to recommend, for example, almost doubling in one instance.

But in some cases the 'poorest quality' campaign achieved greater uplift than the premium.

The most interesting finding of the research, said Adams, was that "the type of editorial or advertising environment was having more of an influence than subjective notions of good or bad placement".

So a campaign with high-quality placements scored well in implicit testing around measures such as 'dynamic' and 'distinctive; poor-quality placements performed best on 'authenticity' and 'fun'.

Adams was unable to offer any hard-and-fast rules about media placement, but he stressed that media context did have an effect and that it was "a subtler and more nuanced picture than simply good vs. bad".

He advised that careful attention be paid to the implicit signals a brand sends out by its choice of media placement, as well as its broader behaviour through every touchpoint.

Data sourced from Warc