What is Contextual Video Advertising?

An ad for Nike running shoes is shown before a video about marathon running.

That’s a perfect example of contextual video advertising.

Contextual Video Advertising Defined

Contextual video advertising is a term used to describe the matching of video ads to the video content being watched in that moment.

Great advertising has always been about delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time.

Contextual video advertising delivers on all three of those considerations.

Before the advent of programmatic advertising buying and third-party tracking cookies, contextual advertising was a popular tactic used by brands to ensure that consumers paid attention to their advertising.

When the use of third-party cookies became popular, the industry started to focus more on ‘the right person’ and less on ‘the right time’. Ad campaigns would follow people around the internet, irrespective of the content they were consuming at the moment the ad was served.

Most browsers have stopped supporting third-party tracking cookies, and Google will follow suit soon, citing privacy reasons. This means that contextual video advertising is ‘having a renaissance’, as Max Willens at Digiday put it.

Once again, with the help of first-party data, brands will be balanced in their pursuit of delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time.

Benefits of Contextual Video Advertising

Consumers are bombarded by far too many commercial messages to merit conscious attention to them all.

Human attentional filters are designed to subconsciously filter out all of the stimuli that are irrelevant to us in that moment, so we are able to focus and pay attention to what is deemed relevant.

Anything that is not deemed relevant or interesting at that moment is blocked out before it hits our conscious mind. So serving a video ad for car insurance to somebody reading about golf is less likely to get their attention because it is not relevant in that moment.

Contextual advertising works by appearing relevant to the consumer at that moment, based on the content they have actively chosen to read or watch.

For example, if a consumer was reading an article about coffee, and within that article there was a contextually relevant video about coffee, and the video ad served before that video was also about coffee, the consumer’s attention to that ad would be higher. We have proven this using eye-tracking technology.

Contextual Video Ads: Research Shows It Works

An eye-tracking study by Lumen Research monitored exactly where consumer attention was directed in order to test how context affected attention.

Three groups of people were monitored:

  • Group 1 saw a video ad about coffee that was not contextually targeted to the article or the video content within that article.
  • Group 2 saw the same video ad about coffee, but this time the text in the article was about coffee. However, the video content placed within that article was not about coffee for this group.
  • Group 3 saw the same video ad about coffee, but it was contextually matched to both the text in the article, and also the video content placed within that article.

The results?

  • 79% of people in Group 1 paid attention to the video ad.
  • 85% of people in Group 2 paid attention to the video ad.
  • 95% of the people in Group 3 paid attention to the video ad.

The research proved that contextually targeted environments help brands circumvent attentional filters and command more consumer attention.

How Does Contextual Video Advertising Work?

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology ‘reads’ online video and its metadata, which then automates the understanding of content and context for every video on a publisher’s site.

Based on this rich understanding, ad targeting and brand safety requirements are matched to contextually relevant video content at scale, across publishers globally.

The result is contextually relevant advertising environments, which are proven to command more consumer attention.

How AI Supports Contextual Video Advertising

Most word scanning technologies on the market today are good at scanning webpages for content, but they cannot read video. For these technologies, video content is an unreadable black box on the page.

This creates targeting and brand safety concerns for advertisers because the video content on a webpage is not necessarily the same as the textual content.

Used correctly, Artificial Intelligence can read videos automatically and at scale, giving both publishers and advertisers 100% confidence that the advertising is both contextually targeted and brand-safe.

How are Contextual Video Ads Implemented?

With third-party cookies being phased out, contextual targeting can be blended with first-party data, so an advertiser knows they are delivering the right message to the right person at the right time.

How does an advertiser control where video ads are played?

Advertisers can buy video advertising directly from publishers who have the correct technology, typically via a private marketplace (PMP).

The advertiser can stipulate the type of content that they want to be aligned with, as well as the content that they do not want to be seen on, and technology can automatically detect and direct advertising campaigns accordingly.

How to Measure the Success of Contextual Video Advertising

Some advertisers consider the percentage of a video ad that is watched as a success metric (View-Through Rate). Others look at the number of people who clicked on a video ad (Click-Through Rate or CTR), and some use a brand uplift service, which measures attitudes towards the brand after the campaign and compares it to a control group of people who did not see the ad.

How Outbrain Contextual Video Ads Help Publishers and Brand Advertisers

Outbrain works with both publishers and advertisers to deliver contextual environments at scale:

Publishers: Our AI technology is embedded in thousands of publishers globally, helping them to automate the process of displaying a contextually relevant video ad within every article. This leads to a boost in in-stream video plays, which can then be offered to advertisers.

Brands & Advertisers: We work directly with brands and advertisers who wish to buy contextually relevant video inventory at scale. With one deal, advertisers are able to automate the process of finding the contextual corners of the internet where consumer attention will be the highest for their brand.

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