How technology’s move from retro to revolutionary is fueling contextual advertising

Integral Ad Science heads talk to e4m about the power of contextual advertising and how their tools can help advertisers and publishers make the most of it

e4m by Mansi Sharma
Published: May 16, 2022 8:46 AM  | 5 min read

While India is in a digitally nascent stage, advertisers are getting quite serious about where they are placing their ads, Integral Ad Science (IAS) Commercial Lead – India Saurabh Khattar told e4m in a recent interaction. Khattar, along with Laura Quigley, Senior Vice President – APAC, was speaking ahead of the release of ‘The Power of Context consumer study – India Edition’.

“It will take us some time to reach that stage (where advertisers are making decisions about associating with particular publishers based on their content and agenda) but most of the advertisers have started realising that they can’t just put their ads anywhere. While brand safety has been a basic hygiene factor for quite some time now, they are looking beyond that and checking on the relevance and viewability of the content before making any decisions,” Khattar said.

As per the Power of Context study, 92 per cent of consumers in India find it very important that advertising is relevant to the content being consumed and 75 per cent want to see ads that match the content they are viewing. 93 per cent of the consumers said their perception of an online ad is impacted by the surrounding content on the page.

Khattar and Quigley further elaborated on how IAS was helping these marketers, advertisers, and publishers to work together in synergy to propel contextual advertising.

“IAS helps advertisers and agencies via digital verification and media quality analysis for their content based on different parameters. The first and foremost is brand safety, wherein we ensure that the advertiser content is not placed with a publisher content that could be detrimental to the former’s image. For example, Nestle, who is our global client, wouldn’t want its chocolates to be advertised in content that is talking about food poisoning. The second parameter is ad fraud, the third is viewability, and the fourth is geo analysis; all these ensure that the advertiser content is reaching the right audience in the right geographies and the one who is spending money knows exactly where their money is going,” Khattar quipped.

Quigley added that all these functions of viewability analysis, tracking of geotags, and curation of quality scores of publishers are managed by IAS proprietary tools. “All these tools have been built from scratch by us and give the marketers a very definite idea of factors like cost-per-click of each publisher, the quality of paths that an advertiser can use to publish their content (be it via Outbrain or native, or directly via publisher), so there is a lot of financial transparency and marketers can optimise their spends.”

The duo also talked about the advancement of technology further propelling the segment growth and could open up a new chapter in contextual advertising.

Quigley further said, “What I like to call this transformation in technology is retro to revolutionary; this technology has been in place for decades now wherein advertisers get the quality score of pages etc. But now we can do a clear sentiment analysis of any piece of content just using technology that is reading content like a human mind. A lot of people do not realise how technology has really changed and can help advertisers make more optimised and targeted spends.”

Khattar noted, “We are also helping publishers in understanding how they can make better, fitted content to drive better advertising revenues and they are taking us pretty seriously. They are bringing a change in their publishing strategy as they realise they would otherwise lose out on the economy.”

But that doesn’t mean that news would suffer. Quigley clarifies that there is always going to be a space for news publishers to bring honest facts, “If there is a terrorist attack, publishers would obviously cover that and we can’t be taking that away. But most publishers are realising that there is a need and space for positive news that viewers and advertisers both are looking for. Plus, relevance is the keyword here. Maybe an FMCG player can find a relevant place in a piece of news but a Fintech player won’t. That’s where our tools can help both the publishers and advertisers to take an informed decision.” 

However, they agree that this growing reliance on technology and optimisation might hamper the quality of content that advertisers generate.

“While ads have to be contextually relevant and should bring the maximum ROI for brands, creativity must not suffer because of technology and availability of data. We have taken a lot of time to reach from very obvious ad texts like ‘50% off’ to more subtle advertising that emerges in the content and we should not be taking that away,” Quigley quipped.

Another thing that advertisers must seriously be considering is frequency capping, she added. “Seeing a similar ad in all ad slots doesn’t work, in my opinion. I always wonder why the advertiser wants to spend over and over again with no return on investment when there clearly are ways and tools to do the right frequency capping.”

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