The importance of context in media placement

Paddy Adams

For all the increased sophistication of the advertising industry over the last few years, just about the only thing we can say with any degree of certainty about advertising is that we don’t really know how it works; at least not all of the time. There are a number of conflicting and contradictory models in existence – emotional vs. rational persuasion; salesmanship vs. seduction; fame vs. engagement. What a lot of these models share is an acceptance that an advertising message doesn’t exist in isolation – the context in which the message is consumed should be an important factor in if, and how, the advertising works.

Of course that context is potentially made up of many different factors – the consumer’s mood and mind-set, the weather, the news that day, etc. However it seems safe to assume that one fairly common contextual influence is the placement of the advertising message; the scale, the editorial environment, the surrounding advertising all presumably contributes to the message’s effect.

At Manning Gottlieb OMD we spend a lot of time thinking about brands’ ‘body language’; that is, the implicit signals brands send out through how they behave, and how those signals amplify or contradict a brand’s explicit advertising message. As neuroscientist Antonio Damasio puts it:

“We’re all continually influenced by subconscious perception, and we cannot function in any other way”[1]

This has to be true of brands – that every aspect of a brand’s behaviour, across every conceivable touchpoint, has the potential to contribute to someone’s perception of that brand. In order to find out more about how media placement was contributing to people’s subconscious perceptions of brands we set out to identify and quantify its effect.

To read more please see here, for Patrick’s full article, ‘Advertising in context: The importance of context in media placement’ that was featured in Warc.

[1] Antonio Damasio, Looking for Spinosa, 2004