New Study Reveals More Effective Way for Brands to Connect with Consumers

IPG Media Lab Finds Contextual Targeting Drives Purchase Intent Straying from the Demographic Targeting Model

NEW YORK--()--IPG Media Lab, the creative technology arm of IPG Mediabrands, in partnership with ZEFR, a leading video identification technology company, today announced the results of a quantitative study among more than 8,600 consumers examining the impact of showing the same video ad across a variety of differing content on YouTube. The results of the study, The Power of Relevance: Content, Context and Emotions, hone in on the exact impact that context can play in ad effectiveness, and provides solutions for advertisers in an explosive era of digital video content and consumption.

The first-of-its-kind study explores contextually relevant video advertisements as they relate to recall, perceived relevance, and purchase and recommendation intent. 73% of consumers felt contextually relevant ads, defined as ads served against the actual content of the video, complemented the overall video experience. Conversely, the study also revealed that the commonly used technique of conquesting is not as effective as brands may have thought. Results also showed that contextual advertising makes a brand more likable, more relevant and carry a higher value to consumers, as compared to ads targeted at the channel and audience levels.

"We all know that where an ad runs has an impact on its success, but what that impact is has never been explored," said Dave Rosner, EVP of Strategic Marketing, ZEFR. "In a world where ad blocking and privacy is an issue and demographic targeting can miss the mark, we set out to determine how effective ads served against relevant content and personal interests really are. What we saw was that contextual ads are preferred by consumers – and the right pairing increases purchase consideration in a massive way. Reaching consumers in the right mindset makes ads resonate better.”

Contextual Relevance Creates a Better Video Experience

Consumers reported that their perception of a brand increased when served a contextually relevant ad.

  • 73% of consumers targeted at the contextual level said the ad complements the video experience, compared to 55% targeted at the channel level and 49% targeted at the audience level.
  • Consumers recognize when an ad is contextually aligned. 71% of consumers targeted at the contextual level said the ad was relevant to the content of the video they were watching, compared to 51% at the channel level and 42% at the audience level.

Relevant Ads Lead to Better Brand Perception and Purchase Intent

Contextually relevant ads led to improved brand metrics. Purchase and recommendation intent were higher when served contextually relevant ads; overall brand favorability increased, and consumers reported higher brand personality and were willing to pay more for brand products.

  • Contextual targeting increased purchase intent by 63% versus audience or channel level targeting.
  • Consumers targeted at the contextual level were 83% more likely to recommend the product in the advertisement than those targeted at the audience or channel level.
  • Overall brand favorability was 40% higher for consumers targeted at the contextual level.
  • Consumers served contextual ads reported that they would pay more for a brand. The results were insignificant at both the channel and audience levels.

The study explores other types of contextual alignment, such as emotional, thematic, and vertical, with detailed results on the performance of each.

  • Sentiments in emotionally aligned ads need to be congruent; for example, a happy ad should be followed with happy content. When aligned, consumers said they were 83% more likely to purchase the product, and 300% were more likely to recommend it to a friend or family member.
  • When an ad is targeted based on vertical (ad and video are about similar product or service category), the consumers were able to create a strong and obvious connection between the ad and content.

“Our goal with this research was to test the unproven theory that contextual advertising is more effective than other forms of targeting when it comes to video ads,” said Kara Manatt, VP, consumer research strategy at IPG Media Lab. “The findings prove that contextually relevant advertising better engages consumers and increases their brand perceptions and purchase and recommendation intent, making it a better option for advertisers than other forms of targeting.”

The study tested ads for brands such as MillerCoors, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, BMW, and Sony Pictures. Consumers initially were surveyed with demographic and video consumption questions. Following, webcams were then turned on for attention and emotion measurement. Then, consumers selected video content for viewing and were then given post-exposure surveys to measure traditional brand metrics such as ad recall, perceptions, and intent, as well as qualitative feedback. The study was divided into different test scenarios – ranging from placing an ad in front of content about that product category, to placing an ad in front of content that has similar themes to the ad, to aligning the ad according to the emotional tone of the content.

About IPG Media Lab

The IPG Media Lab is the creative technology arm of IPG Mediabrands. Equal parts think tank, real-world proving ground, and change enabler, we provide agencies and media operators with the power to harness emerging communication opportunities by offering expertise, resources and consulting services tailored to drive quantifiable outcomes, learnings and strategies. The IPG Media Lab is part of IPG Mediabrands, the media innovation and investment arm of IPG. For more information, please visit or follow @ipglab.

About IPG Mediabrands

IPG Mediabrands was founded by Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG) in 2007 to manage all of its global media related assets. Today, we manage over $37 billion in marketing investment on behalf of our clients, employing over 8,500 marketing communication specialists in more than 130 countries.

IPG Mediabrands is a new world agency group designed with dynamic marketing at its core. Our speed, agility and data smarts ensure we continue to create growth for many of the world’s biggest brands. IPG Mediabrands’ network of agencies includes UM, Initiative, BPN and Orion Holdings as well specialty business units including Magna Global, Cadreon, Ansible, Society, Reprise, Rapport and the IPG Media Lab.

IPG Mediabrands. Dynamic by Design.

About ZEFR

ZEFR is the world’s leading video identification technology company. Its videoID™ technology identifies, filters and organizes online video for brands and content owners. With access to more data any other YouTube partner, ZEFR’s BrandID® delivers a view into culture and the tools to turn insights into more impactful media for advertisers. In 2015, ZEFR released BrandID® Influencers, a technology-based influencer marketing platform.

ZEFR’s RightsID® is the rights management technology of choice for nearly every Hollywood movie studio and music label. ZEFR is a top ranked ComScore video property. The company is headquartered in Venice Beach, California with offices in New York, Provo, Chicago and London.


Lindsey McNeely
PR Manager
(646) 565-6826


Lindsey McNeely
PR Manager
(646) 565-6826