Study: Context Matters for Online Ads

Like print ads, context matters when it comes to the effectiveness of Internet ads, according to new findings from media researcher McPheters & Co.

Analyzing the effectiveness of Internet banner ads, McPheters, collaborating with Condé Nast and CBS Vision, found that online ads running on sites with related content were 61 percent more likely to be recalled than ads on sites with unrelated content—a finding that would seem to undercut the case for ad or behavioral networks, which target viewers based on their Internet usage habits.

“The behavior networks are more focused on who they get in front of instead of the environment sites provide,” said Rebecca McPheters, CEO of McPheters & Co. “This says the site on which your ad appears matters.”

The firm also found that not all types of sites are created equal when it comes to recall. Social-networking, shopping and food sites generated the highest recall levels (29 percent to 39 percent), while search and portal sites had the lowest (under 5 percent).

Recall also varied by ad category. Regardless of where they appeared, entertainment, telecommunications and packaged goods ads perfomed better than auto ads, although the auto industry’s well-known troubles could well be a factor. The range in recall by ad category was 12 percent to 38 percent.

The recall study of 400 ads was fielded at CBS Vision’s Television City lab in Las Vegas.