IAS study shows context in advertising increases ad memorability by up to 40%

Digital media quality adtech firm, Integral Ad Science (IAS), has released biometric research on the importance of context in advertising.

Named The Context Effect and conducted with IAS and Neuro-Insight, a neuromarketing and neuroanalytics company, the study examines brain activity in response to contextually matched ads, showing context can significantly impact ad memorability and help brands to create campaigns that resonate more persistently with consumers.

In The Context Effect, consumers evaluated content across three types of contextual matching. Key findings include:

Endemically matched ads drive higher memorability

Endemically matched ads, or those that align with and match the surrounding content based on vertical (e.g. auto ad near auto content), drove a 23% lift in activation within the part of the brain responsible for memory of practical details, which includes key messages, calls to action, and branding elements.

These ads also boosted global memory by 27%, or the memorability of broad themes, overarching narratives, or audio and visual elements.

Informational ads perform best when matched with an article’s key message

According to the findings, matching informational ads with an article’s message creates a very strong detail memory response, and drove a 36% lift in detail memory compared to when there was no match.

This can be especially relevant for campaigns that focus on a clear call to action that brands want consumers to respond to.

Ads focused on an emotional response are best paired with content themes

Ads that aim to leave an emotional memory, a particular feeling or overarching brand perception among consumers performed best when placed alongside articles with a matching theme (for example, an ad with a seasonal Summer thematic adjacent to summer season content). The study found that emotive ads drove 40% higher global memory within thematically-matched articles compared to when there was no match.

Consumers recognise ads as part of their online experience

The vast majority of consumers (63%) viewed ads as part of their online reading, not disruptive or a distraction. Only 36% of participants said they scrolled past an ad without reading it.

These findings demonstrate that digital marketers can achieve higher brand memorability and elicit positive emotional responses from consumers by activating contextual strategies. The Context Effect study from IAS monitored 60 U.S. consumers during a 30-minute mobile experience using Neuro-Insight’s Steady State Topography (SST) to track and record brain activity in real-time. Respondents were also asked to match ads to the context they appeared within.

Using the latest neuroscience and neurometrics, this groundbreaking study demonstrates the specific ways that a webpage’s context can dramatically alter how audiences recall and respond to ads. As our industry prepares for a cookieless future and increasingly moves away from audience targeting, advertisers have a significant opportunity to be intentional with contextual targeting tools, such as IAS Context Control, to drive greater campaign outcomes.

Tony Marlow, CMO, IAS