Customer vs Context

Traditionally marketing has been focused on finding a suitable context where your product matches the intended viewer. If a sports utility company wanted to buy marketing, they would place there ads in sports magazines and purchase tv-time in sports channels and specifically around games that they could expect their selected audience to watch. This behavior spilled over to how online media was bought and has been the best way of targeting up until now. Sports on TV and sports magazines mainly have a sports interested audience and so do sport websites. But, the goal has never been to be present in those environments, just to secure that you meet your selected target group. The problem with this is that the consumers are more interested in actual articles or the sporting event on tv than the surrounding marketing.

(Disclaimer: For branding campaigns the environment often has an importance, we will come back to this in a later article. This article will only consider performance campaigns. But, the same thinking does to some degree also apply for branding)

So – how can you improve your marketing effect by buying smarter? At Delta Projects we wanted to investigate if we could see this in our data. Is there a difference between the effect of placing ads based on context (environment) and ads placed based on browser interest. We found some really interesting results that we want to share with you.

We choose CTR as the efficiency metric for the campaign and set the baseline for each site category by what the matching browser profile had for those sites. By that we mean, the CTR does a sports browser have on sports sites etc. This comparison shows a slightly, but not significantly, higher CTR for sports browsers (regardless of site category) than for sport sites (regardless of browser profile). The interesting part comes when we choose to look at the CTR for sport browsers, but only on site categories that have a higher CTR than the baseline. The ads placed on these sites show a 20% increase on average. An additional effect is that since we’re not limited by the sport sites our inventory increases by 300%. We can see this effect on all our browser categories. So by choosing smart when we combine browser profile with site category we can get great result in optimizing the CTR. Another advantage with adopting this thinking in placing of ads is that you are less likely to have competitors on the same site at the same time.

So why do we see this effect?

Our hypothesis is that in order to get clicked, an ad needs to be both relevant AND more attractive than the surrounding content. Going back to our sports example – when a sports interested browser visits a sports site, they are likely to focus their attention on the content and not as much on the ads. In site categories where sports browsers have a higher CTR, the ads are relevant as well as attract more interest than the surrounding content. In the cases where the CTR is lower than the baseline, the ads look to be too much out of context.

There is no common rule for all advertisers or even for all banners from the same advertiser, but by using the data to create an optimized campaign we can harness the possibilities that programmatic buying offers.