The relationship a reader has with a publisher has far more impact on the effectiveness of online ads than the surrounding editorial content, according to a new study, which suggests some concerns around brand safety may be misunderstood.
The study – by Inskin Media, Research Now and Conquest Research – compared the conscious and subconscious reactions of people who were served ads on websites either with or without publisher branding.
It revealed that ads on the publisher-branded sites increased consideration for the advertiser by 60 per cent, compared to the ads on the site without publisher branding.
For readers with a close relationship to the publisher, consideration for the advertiser was 152 per cent higher than among those who saw the ads on the site without publisher branding.
Additionally, advertiser brand warmth was 33 per cent higher, brand empathy 20 per cent higher and brand proximity (how close people felt to the brand) 19 per cent higher.
Inskin’s Australian general manager, Matt Newcomb (pictured above), said the study reveals an important lesson in publisher-reader relationships, which can have catalytic consequences in terms of boosting the effectiveness of the ads it displays.
“The study shows that if online publishers pay more consideration to the reader experience, the ads will be more effective, so they can optimise yield while carrying more selective types of advertising,” he said.
In contrast, the study found there was no systematic pattern to suggest that editorial content impacts the ad – be the article positive or negative or whether it had a similar theme to the ad.
For example, a supermarket food advert next to an article about obesity did not overtly affect any brand metrics at all.
Also, in isolated cases, a story that was both positive and had a similar theme to the ad could still elicit a negative brand association, suggesting individual parts of the article could have a disproportionate effect.
Newcomb said this shows that brand safety is “considerably more complex than the industry might like to admit”.
“For example, we know brand safety is a PR issue, but what effect does it actually have on readers’ brand perception?” he said.
“More research in this area is required to help marketers devise meaningful and effective brand safety policies, as the area is still a relative unknown. Technology will, of course, help us all understand how to better implement this by client and sector.”
Speaking to B&T, Inskin CEO Hugo Drayton said the big warning for publishers – balanced out by the need for programmatic trading – is that context and environment are still important.
“In an age where reaching an audience is often prized above reaching an environment, that is a potential danger for some publishers,” he said.
“They’re in a tough position because their trying to get the ad dollars from the likes of Google and Facebook, so they have to tread a fine line.
“A publisher who gives up its birthright in the sense of not worrying about the environment or user experience will likely find it to be very limited in the future.”