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Want People to Pay Attention to Your Ads? Make them Personal. A new study found that customers responded better to contextual advertisements.

By Nina Zipkin

Kentucky Fried Chicken | Busy People | Youtube

What is the best way for businesses to reach prospective customers? Make it personal, of course.

Contextual advertising -- ads that are targeted to consumers based on what they are searching for -- actually makes people view brands in a more positive light compared to ads that are targeted to specific channels or audiences, according to a new study from media marketing company IPG Mediabrands and ZEFR, a video identification technology company.

The survey polled more than 8,600 consumers about their reactions to seeing the same advertisement on YouTube for products from companies such as MillerCoors, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, BMW and Sony Pictures.

Related: Video Marketing: How to Stretch Your Dollars

With contextual ads, the intent to purchase increased by 63 percent compared to channel- or audience-targeted ads, and the viewers also said they would pay more for the brand in question. And instead of feeling the inclination to ignore or skip the ad, 73 percent of consumers reported that the contextually relevant ads actually "complemented the overall video experience."

Emotions also play a role. For example, the most successful ads share a tone with the content that follows them -- a happy ad should precede a happy video. When that was the case, 83 percent said they were more likely to buy the product being advertised and were 300 percent more likely to recommend the product to their family and friends.

Related: Why Facebook Says Your Video Ads Should Be Silent

Dave Rosner, executive vice president of strategic marketing at ZEFR, explained in a press release the rationale for exploring the impact of this kind of advertising: "In a world where ad blocking and privacy is an issue and demographic targeting can miss the mark, we set out to determine how effective ads served against relevant content and personal interests really are. What we saw was that contextual ads are preferred by consumers -- and the right pairing increases purchase consideration in a massive way. Reaching consumers in the right mindset makes ads resonate better."
Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

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