- An ad's environment has an impact on viewers reaction, according to brand safety and anti-fraud firm Integral Ad Science (IAS) in a new report based on biometric research. Ads seen in high-quality mobile environments were viewed 74% more favorably than those see in low-quality environments, per the report, "The Halo Effect: Ad Environment and Receptivity."
- The study, done in partnership with Neuro-Insight, utilized data from the brain centers responsible for positive and negative affinity, which showed a better reception for ad creatives when seen next to high-quality content. If the content was "unsavory," consumers were three times less willing to associate with the brands running those ads.
- High-quality content can produce an engagement rate as much as 20% higher and a memorability as much as 30% greater, compared to low-quality content, per the report. Three ads from brands across the auto, CPG, financial services, technology, and retail industries were embedded into each tested site.
The report adds another dimension to advertisers' existing wariness about brand safety, citing specific brain reactions that show unsavory surrounding content directly impacts viewers' consideration of the message and the brand. The IAS study followed 50 people during a 30-minute mobile experience and monitored their brain activity. Each person saw eight digital display creatives in banner ads in eight different mobile sites, which were assessed based on IAS' brand risk score. Four were rated as high-quality content, and four as low-quality, with articles and creatives rotated among the sites.
Brands' wariness towards unsafe digital environments is translating to how they are allocating their budgets, with 80% of U.S. marketers saying they will reduce ad spending in "brand unsafe" environments, per data from the Society for New Communications Research of The Conference Board from late 2017 and cited by IAS. Fifty-four percent will increase spending in brand-safe contexts.
Brands are also actively working with the digital advertising industry to improve quality experiences and reduce low-quality ones. For example, in June Procter & Gamble, Unilever and other major advertisers helped launch The Global Alliance for Responsible Media, which is bringing together advertisers, publishers and online platforms to stop the online growth of offensive content and fake news.
Beyond the IAS' brand risk score, the report illustrates several examples of safe and unsafe content. For instance, the report shows – for "illustrative" reasons only – a mockup example of a low-quality site. Its headline: "Military gaming has a long history." The high-quality example: "Lionel Messi is Barcelona's diva in the best sense of the word."
Extremist propaganda or sexually explicit content would seem to obviously qualify as unsavory content, and the report notes that nearly a third of marketers in the U.S. and the U.K. said "avoiding fake news is a priority." The report doesn't address where politically controversial content, tawdry gossip columns or trailers for violent movies fall on the safe, unsafe spectrum.