There’s a battle raging in digital advertising, and the conqueror will command consumers' attention more than any other brand.

Advertisers continually seek the most effective strategies to capture the hearts and minds of their target audience, but are the most common audience targeting based methods already outdated? Traditional audience-based targeting methods have been a go-to approach for many years. However, our latest tech review in collaboration with Playground XYZ has shed a light on an alternative and more impactful path to success.

The study's findings are clear and compelling: contextual targeting outperforms audience-based targeting in delivering engagement and attention, reaffirming the importance of reaching the right audience at the right time and alongside the right content.

Contextual targeting levels up

The digital advertising landscape has witnessed a significant shift towards audience-based targeting, with advertisers relying on user profile data to guide their campaigns. However, this approach has its limitations, including issues such as shared devices and accounts, which dilute the impact of individual profile data. Not to mention the death of cookies – whenever that comes to fruition.

In contrast, contextual targeting focuses on the content surrounding an ad placement, ensuring that the advertisement is relevant to the context in which it appears. This allows brands to be more inclusive and methodical with their targeting, rather than exclusive and overreaching.

Our study reviewed 76 campaigns across eight different verticals, providing a comprehensive view of the effectiveness of contextual targeting. It revealed that our contextually targeted solutions consistently outperformed industry benchmarks, delivering nearly 70% more attention for skippable ads.

Furthermore, both skippable and non-skippable ad formats surpassed benchmarks 95% and 97% of the time, respectively. This data goes to demonstrate the significant difference contextual based advertising can deliver compared to audience-based advertising.

The impact of content on user engagement

The study's most significant revelation is the undeniable link between brand suitability, contextual advertising and increased user engagement.

Brand suitability, in this context, refers to the alignment of an ad with the content, or the creator, it accompanies. When ads are delivered within the right context, viewers are more likely to pay attention, resulting in higher levels of engagement and, ultimately, conversions further down the customer journey.

The data collected during the study conclusively demonstrates that content is, indeed, king once again in the world of advertising. By ensuring that ads are delivered within a context that resonates with viewers, advertisers can significantly enhance their chances of capturing and retaining consumer attention.

Central to the success of this approach to contextual targeting is a dedication to delivering advertising based on content, rather than individual profile data. This strategic shift recognises the limitations of audience-based targeting and acknowledges the power of context in shaping user behaviour. By curating activity that aligns with the content in which it appears, we consistently find above-benchmark results, exceeding industry standards over 80% of the time.

The study's findings emphasise that our technology delivers an impressive 28% more attention than the industry norm. On average, this translates to more than one additional second of viewer attention per ad placement. This boost in attention is a testament to the effectiveness of contextual targeting in capturing and retaining viewer interest.

The role of Playground XYZ: Elevating attention measurement

In this era of data-driven decision-making, measuring the impact of advertising efforts is paramount.

Playground XYZ’s Attention Intelligence Platform’s (AIP) unique metric, Attention Time, evaluates the length of time in seconds that an ad is actually looked at. What sets AIP apart is its reliance on real eye-tracking data from an opt-in panel and advanced AI models that enable attention measurement at scale. By applying AIP's YouTube attention measurement capability to live campaigns, the study was able to analyse individual ad records accurately and determine Attention Time across the entire campaign.

The importance of self-verification

The study's success story wouldn't be complete without addressing the importance of self-verification. The significance of all players within the whole advertising industry committing to delivering self-verification through partners cannot be understated. It builds trust within the whole ecosystem, whilst ensuring that we can continue to break boundaries and create great new technologies. Taking these verification or review steps underlines the industry's dedication to transparency, accuracy, and the pursuit of excellence.

Contextual targeting takes center stage

In a world where adding return on investment is the most valuable currency for advertisers this study has redefined the rules of engagement. Possessing attention through contextual targeting and brand suitability not only gives you a higher level of engagement but returns a maximised ROI and enables efficient management of media buying. The study clearly demonstrates that advertising, driven by the right content and context, has proven its superiority over audience-based targeting in delivering engagement and attention.

There is now a clear roadmap for advertisers seeking to elevate their campaigns to new heights. By embracing the principles of brand suitability, contextual relevance, and rigorous self-verification, advertisers can ensure they deliver their messages to the right audience, at the right time, and alongside the right content, ultimately driving higher levels of engagement, attention and conversion. In this new era of advertising, content is king once again, and context is the crown that ensures its reign.