Study Finds Contextual Ads Are More Engaging & Memorable


GumGum, Inc., an artificial intelligence company specialising in solutions for advertising and media, today released new neuroscientific research findings that explain why contextual targeting is an effective digital advertising tactic.

The findings come from a study GumGum conducted in partnership with neuroanalytics company SPARK Neuro, which examined how an ad’s contextual relevance to content influences consumers. Ads with the most contextual relevance elicited 43% more neural engagement and 2.2 times better ad recall, the study found. It also revealed that contextually relevant ads inspired a statistically significant increase in purchase intent.

“We know that contextual targeting done right delivers the reliable results that brands need, especially as the industry searches for solutions in the wake of the cookies’ demise,” said GumGum CEO Phil Schraeder. “What’s significant about these findings is that they clearly show why contextual is so effective: Neural engagement is a big driver of direct response performance, memorability supports branding plays and purchase intent moves the needle for both branding and direct response.”

As governments place meaningful restrictions on how brands can collect and share user data and major browsers sunset the cookies that have long fuelled behavioural targeting, advertisers will need other reliable methods for reaching consumers on the open web. Contextual targeting, which has benefited from major advances in AI-powered content analysis technology, is an obvious choice because of its user data-free nature. Some advertisers still view contextual as old-fashioned, however. The research announced today should dispel those doubts.

The global study asked 60 participants aged 18 to 54 from US, UK, and Japan, to read six articles on different topics, each of which featured three ads whose relevance to article content ranged from high to low. The highly relevant ads were selected as representative of what a state-of-the-art programmatic contextual targeting system would serve. An array of biometric sensors – including eye tracking, facial coding, and EEG – were used to measure responses to the articles and ads. The combined measurements formed the basis for the study’s findings.

“SPARK Neuro’s suite of neuroanalytic tracking technologies is like a lie detector test on steroids,” Mr. Schraeder said. “We’re extremely grateful for the expertise they demonstrated throughout our partnership, which produced a powerful proof that contextual relevance is essential to effective advertising.”

“When GumGum approached us about this project, we knew it was just the right kind of interesting research question our tech is built to answer,” added SPARK Neuro CEO Spencer Gerrol. “We’ve long been aware of GumGum’s leadership in the contextual relevance space so we were enthusiastic about exploring the different ways context influences how people consume digital advertising.”


GumGum is a contextual-first global digital advertising platform that captures people’s attention, without the use of personal data. We believe that a digital advertising ecosystem based on understanding a consumer’s active frame of mind rather t...
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