Context Matters

Newsworks and the Association for Online Publishing (AOP)


Newsworks and the Association for Online Publishing (AOP) partnered with Neuro-Insight to examine the impact of context on digital advertising responses. The research measured participants’ brain responses to identical ads placed in different editorial environments, analysing a number of sites in the brain in order to identify and measure long-term memory encoding, engagement (personal relevance), emotional intensity, attention and liking. Results show that people process ads differently depending on where they are seen. It’s not enough to find the right audience, people need to see ads in an environment that is conducive to memory encoding if we are to build brands longer term and maximise effectiveness. Left brain memory encoding, which processes words and detail, is 42% stronger when people view ads on premium editorial sites than when they see the same ads on social media sites. Right brain memory encoding (more emotional and global aspects of processing) is strong for both premium sites and social media, but ads on premium sites generate a 9% stronger response. Social media and premium sites work in complementary ways – and both outperform the average of ads encountered during free browsing, implying that targeting ads simply by audience is not optimising ad performance online.

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