Why Contextual Advertising Is So Important for Ad Buyers in 2021

Blog 6 min read | Mar 31, 2021 | JW Player


Online Videos are an Invaluable Window into a Viewer’s Psyche

On the web, there are readers and then there are viewers. Online video viewers are an engrossed and highly attentive audience. They are so compelled by the subject they are perusing, that in their day to day browsing, they’ve opted to watch a video on the matter. 

But once someone clicks play, an advertiser has a matter of seconds to win or lose the attention pointed towards the accompanying video. And this is where a nanosecond of invaluable opportunity lies for video advertisers. An ad that compliments the content a viewer is seeking in that brief moment of intent can be more impactful than reaching that same viewer later on when they’re streaming their favorite shows to unwind.

The cookie removal may be the catalyst for advertisers to develop contextual strategies, but when applied properly, content-first targeting can be more effective than any behavioral, audience-first approach. Through  a contextual lens, a viewer is not being approached as a consumer, or a data driven sum of past online behavior.

A contextual video ad impression is targeting a curiosity, a feeling, or an interest.

What is Contextual Video Advertising?

Contextual video advertising is the science of aligning the video ad with the mindset of the viewer at the moment of relevance. It’s the most ethical and noninvasive way to target the psyche of an individual, while rendering the details of the individual itself inconsequential.

A useful analogy for a contextual online video strategy is thinking back to (pre-pandemic) movie theater days. 

Imagine a crowd settling into their seats, lights dimming, and a horror movie about to play. The crowd falls quiet as the trailers start to roll, showcasing the scariest upcoming horror titles, titillating the viewers and queuing up the main attraction. This is contextual video advertising at its core.

Think of the movie theater as the website, the horror movie as the online video, and the trailer as the video pre-roll ad. The data and demographics of the theater-goers have no bearing on the decision to place a horror movie trailer in front of a scary movie.

But what does matter in the decision-making is (1) that the screen is in view, (2) the trailer is being watched by viewers seeking that related movie, and (3) it’s safe to infer they’re in the mood to be scared at that moment. It’s relevant to the content, and the audience is highly receptive at the moment of engagement. And unlike the enraptured audiences at movie theaters, online video viewers can easily convert that interest into an instant gratification purchase.

It sounds simple enough, but the boundless opportunities technology provides in contextual video advertising, as well as unique challenges within the space are anything but.

3 Reasons Why Contextual Video Ad Alignment is More Impactful than Audience Targeting

As part of our series on contextual video advertising, we’ll be exploring reasons why contextual ad alignment far transcends its perception as a default alternative to audience data targeting.

JW Player is the most widely adopted video player on the open web. Since 2004, JW Player has been the gold standard of video delivery, trusted by more leading publishers than any other open garden video company. As the player delivering video content first—and ads second, JW Player has a trove of contextual data about the video and video engagement, in addition to proprietary insights on the pre-roll ad engagement.

1 – Contextual Video Ads are a More Powerful Storytelling Tool

Visual storytelling has been around since cavemen painted on walls. At its very crux, the medium of video is enrapturing, entertaining, and always delivers a narrative. Commercials have mastered the art of increasingly shorter forms of storytelling for decades. But by the time the video asset reaches media placement, it can be easy to overlook the advertisement as a static entity to algorithmically chase a target demographic across the internet. 

Creative advertising production is a multi-billion dollar industry, but more often than not, these mini-stories end up running against thousands of user generated videos created haphazardly on an iPhone. 

If a video ad can compliment the video a consumer sought out, it has the potential to transform the narrative of the viewing experience. A seamless, intuitive, video ad to video journey creates a native, fluid, and strong brand association to the content.

JW Player can analyze viewership trends across a total universe of premium publishers to find which verticals garner the highest viewership, and help advertisers position their creative accordingly.

2 – Contextually Relevant Video Ads Garner Higher Engagement, Purchase Intent, and Brand Awareness

If a video advertisement is pertinent to the video the viewer is seeking, they are more likely to watch a skippable ad to completion. This is a fact often overlooked in the overcrowded online data space, but makes sense on a basic human interest level. However, there is increasingly more data proving out the power and effectiveness of a contextually relevant strategy.

As the video player, JW Player has measured viewership correlation between the video ad content and the video itself to find that relevant ads get higher video completion rates than other ads on the same video

Google reports that relevant video ads get 3X times more attention than average video ads. There are emerging studies that echo this pattern of relevance with video completion, brand favorability, and purchase intent in the connected TV, user generated content, and display mediums as well.

3 – Contextual Video Advertising Boosts Scale Through Multiple Content Verticals

When done right, a contextual video strategy can dramatically increase scale. Instead of surrendering to the confines of vertical-specific page classification, a video-first contextual strategy opens up a world of inventory—upwards of 70% more reach when decoupling video and page level categorization. 

Think of a sneaker brand that wants their video ad to run on online videos about jogging. The advertiser has previously been limited to setting up individual deals with endemic niche jogging sites. However, there are hundreds of untapped jogging videos on music sites (e.g., “Spring 2021 Workout Playlist”), on news sites (e.g., “Benefits of Jogging on Heart Health”), on lifestyle sites (e.g., “Spring Athleisure Trends”).

Contextual Ad Targeting

Advertisers now have the ability to target the video content completely independently of the website classification. The result is more accurate alignment, and a world of incremental reach.

JW Player analyzed millions of video assets to find the top segments for this next quarter. With a contextual video ad strategy, it’s possible to reach more targeted viewers at scale. Discover Spring 2021 top contextual segments in our blog post next week.

Contextual video ad targeting from JW Player

JW Player provides the video for 12,000 premium domains and powers over 10B monthly plays. Every one of these videos is analyzed and classified on dozens of data points only available to JW Player. The result is a level of ad targeting for video that’s not available with previous page-level based solutions—and at a scale that no one else can match.

Learn more about contextual video ad targeting here. Contact us at deals@jwplayer.com to get started today.