The context debate

Ben Shepherd: I was chatting to someone yesterday about what things are lacking in the current digital media climate, and one thing we agreed on was there appears to be a lack of awareness about the importance of context in the world of digital advertising.

He mentioned that in the past it was very difficult to quantify exactly who your audience was. Let’s say you were a magazine – defining your readership base in terms of demographics was difficult – but you did know that they had a passion for the content and a loyalty to the brand … and that is what was the value for advertisers. But there was no way you could pinpoint an exact audience …

Now, that is reversed. Targeting is easy … so easy that target filter premiums are a little excessive given the abundance of supply that exists within the market. It’s context that is difficult … or moreso, finding those environments that inspire users and finding a way for the advertising to compliment the content.

I think there’s 4 key elements marketers should look at in terms of environments to place their brands and
deliver a message

– targeted audience
– focused editorial
– specific relevant advertisers
– interested readers

 Once that is qualified you want to look at how you engage the user dependent on time, place, message etc. We know that people have very different uses for online channels and within the scope of one session the users mindset can change.

The below is taken from a summary of research done by MEC and Microsoft in regards to gaining a better understanding of how people use the Internet

“The research findings demonstrate that to reach and engage online audiences successfully, advertisers and agency planners must tailor their communications to the different constituent parts of internet usage. Overall consumers recognised a role for both “push” and “pull” brand communications if it supported, enhanced or improved their online journeys. Interruptive, push advertising is well received only when consumers are surfing the Web or actively seeking information – where banners and paid search can act as signposts to products and services of interest.

The findings also confirmed that consumers are less likely to be open or aware of traditional online advertising formats when social networking or uploading content. However, self-service and participatory branded content and applications, such as decorative online content, gadgets and co-creation platforms, are more welcome by consumers in the growing realms of social, Web 2.0 user behaviour and offer a growing opportunity for advertisers in the future.”

My question is – how can we really reach and connect with our consumers if we downplay the importance of context. Yes, targeting is great but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.


One response to “The context debate

  1. if you analyse context more and more and more you should arrive at this conclusion.

    “extremely targetted advertising is really just a conversation.”

    that’s Seth Godin’s theory anyway.

    and then if you take it even further you may end up with the same thoughts as Doc searls – VRM

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