Context Matters! New UK consumer research

05/21 By Nick Morley

Data Privacy and Contextual Advertising Research

For a while, we all knew content was King. And to an extent, it still is – but the new King on the throne is now ‘Context’

Context is incredibly important in nearly all instances, but has most recently hit the advertising scene due to its power in effective targeting. For automated technology, such as programmatic, targeting a user based on the context of the page the user is in can prove highly effective – not to mention provide a viable alternative to the recent shift from cookie-based targeting. 

Say, you are reading an article about jaguars in the wild. If the context of the article was understood, you may get an ad from the RSPCA (appropriate). However, if the context of the article was not considered, and the words ”jaguar”, “speed” and “fast” were picked up, you could get an ad for the latest Jaguar car. So, we can see that context matters when it comes to targeted advertising. But what about the consumers receiving the adverts – how do they actually want to be targeted by advertisers?

IAS undertook research with 526 UK consumers to find out how they feel being targeted online, the use of the data that is used to do this, and how advertisers can continue to achieve results in a cookie-less world. Here’s what we found:

Consumers prefer brands to target them based on their behaviour and context 

  • 48% prefer contextually targeted ads
  • 35% are receptive to ads based on their previous purchases 
  • 34% want to be targeted based on their browsing history

Consumers are growing more aware of their data privacy online

  • 94% say online data privacy is very important to them
  • 87% are aware websites and apps collect and share their data for advertising purposes
  • 67% are confident in the security of their data
  • 50% believe the security of their data is their own responsibility

There remains resistance from consumers around the sharing and understanding of how their data is used 

  • 62% are still clearing/deleting their browser history
  • 61% would prefer a less targeted ad experience, rather than sharing their data
  • 33% are not even aware of any data privacy regulations

Our top takeaways include: 

  1. Data privacy remains top of mind for consumers, despite a significant proportion of respondents unaware of current privacy regulations
  2. Consumers are aware of online data collection but still care deeply about their data privacy, so much so that they’re taking action to restrict their data collection online
  3. However, consumers are receptive to ads in the right environment and prefer contextual targeting methods
  4. Context matters. Evolving privacy regulation and consumer preference will require a shift to contextual targeting – this will change the future of advertising

Based on the findings, it’s clear consumers have made progress in their understanding about how they receive the ads on their screen, but there remains some concerns around the safety of how their data is used online. 

It’s great news that contextual targeting is in fact preferred by consumers. Now is the time for advertisers to take this approach and use it to effectively engage with their audience, whilst also at the same time navigating the loss of third party cookies.

You heard it from the horse’s mouth – it’s what consumers want! Context has officially been appointed, King.

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