GLOBAL: Advertisers and publishers focused on digital reach and audiences are paying a potentially expensive price by neglecting context and the attention and sales conversions that it can bring, an industry figure has argued.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Mike Follett, managing director of Lumen Research, argues that context is a key determinant of advertising success and is currently significantly undervalued.

Lumen’s own research using eye-tracking technology to study how consumers view digital ads has shown that as few as 18% of ads that meet current viewability standards get looked at – so four in five ads that could be seen are ignored.

A more nuanced picture emerges when considering how ads are treated by consumers on different websites. Follett reports that a viewable ad on The Times site (the best-performing of all the major websites in the study) is ten times more likely to get noticed than a viewable ad on Gumtree (one of the worst-performing websites).

There are several factors at play here, including the size and format of ads, the time spent on sites by consumers, the commitment of those consumers, site design and user experience.

But not only does context make a significant difference to whether an ad gets noticed or engaged with, Lumen’s research also indicates a strong correlation between ads that achieve a minimum attention threshold and sales conversions.

“The ads on websites that we predict are most likely to be seen are also the ads that are most likely to convert to a sale,” Follett says.

“The commodification of media inventory has gone too far,” he argues. Advertisers need to consider far more carefully where their online advertising is appearing and how it is being seen.

“Advertisers who understand this can find ways to dramatically boost the attention that their ads receive, while keeping their ad budgets the same,” he points out.

Nor is it just advertisers who stand to benefit. “Publishers who understand this can find a way to justify price premiums in the face of media commoditisation. Industry bodies who understand this can find a way to create a sustainable media ecosystem that supports a free press.

“But for this to happen, everyone has to start taking context seriously.”

Sourced from Admap