Data privacy, ad placement near sensitive content, and even readers’ feelings are all topics news publishers are considering these days, proving that taking time to account for emotions into data-driven advertising efforts pays off.
Reach, Mediahuis, Grupa Wyborcza, Ekstra Bladet, and Bloomberg media gave insights into how they are considering and incorporating emotion into their strategies to drive advertising success during the What’s Next for Advertising Sales Master Class in September.
Although today’s decisions are driven by data, they become more effective when deployed with emotion. Mark Field, director of client strategy for Reach, gave what he called a “sneak peek” into the company’s new approach to advertising campaigns. Called the Hearts and Minds Approach, it creates sponsored content that appeals to readers by meeting them in the environment where they are most likely to be found.
The concept is designed to appeal to both the emotional and rational side of a customer’s personality. The sweet spot for success, they have found, lies squarely in the middle of those two areas and creates creative opportunities that are developed through multiple brainstorming techniques.
And it’s been profitable, too. In addition to being named Content Studio of the Year in the Campaign Publishing Awards, Reach has enjoyed a 141% growth spurt in the past year.
“We’re talking double-digit millions,” Field said. “We’ve definitely found that taking this approach to understanding data leads to financial success.”
Brian Sheehan, Mediahuis’ head of digital innovation and strategy, said brand safety is a huge concern for the company.
By using tech-powered contextual intelligence, the team can categorise and exclude ads from appearing next to sensitive subject matter.
“If there’s content on murder or terrorism, obviously you don’t want your ad to appear there,” Sheehan said. “We ensure that never happens.”
Mediahuis takes it one step further though. Sheehan said they also use sentiment targeting that can give an idea of how a user might be feeling when consuming certain content to make sure the ad placements are appropriate.
Brand safety is not just a slogan for Grupa Wyborcza. Joanna Balowska, director of sales and ad products development at Agora, said the company has created a first on the Polish advertising market: a separate category for sensitive subjects such as rape or war. If certain related keywords in an article are identified as these topics, it is put into this sensitive subject category. This helps protect the trusted brand and give advertisers reassurance that their ads won’t appear alongside such content.
These efforts to protect brand safety, combined with contextual ad placement capabilities, are paying off. Advertisements with the company encounter only 23% ad-blocking, versus the average of 42% in Poland. Wyborcza is the only publisher in the country with automatic exclusion of sensitive content.
“We provide a quality environment, quality audience, and quality engagement,” she said. “Our tool is effective. We have higher than standard CTR, and average reach on our Web site is between 15 and 30 seconds.”
Natural Language Processing driven by AI allows Ekstra Bladet to train algorithms to learn the meaning inside news articles. Kasper Lindskow, head of research and innovation, believes it’s easier to segment based on those signals and then package that to advertisers.
“It allows you to do brand safety filters based on a deeper understanding that a weather or news article might be evoking an emotion or concerning a topic an advertiser might not want to be located adjacent to,” Lindskow said.
So far, Ekstra Bladet is training models to identify topics, connect the topics and target ad campaigns based on what the algorithm learned. One model, called SENDA, can recognise negative sentiment or identify when an article is written subjectively and can be polarising. The team is then able to customise advertising products since some advertisers may not want to be associated with this kind of content.
Publishers have some unique opportunities to deepen their relationships with both advertisers and subscribers through data, but it must be collected carefully and used thoughtfully, Allison Schulte, global head of data and audience for Bloomberg Media, said. Privacy changes, she added, have created a data vacuum.
“That is an $11.9 billion business, and it’s evolving fast,” she said. “From our perspective, this is great. It’s great for customers ... and it’s great for publishers.”
While collecting data, however, companies also need to be mindful of what data they are requesting. Customers have become more wary about sharing their information, and once publishers have gained their trust, it’s imperative to work to maintain it. Schulte said at Bloomberg, that means conducting tests and “having conversations about it.”
A list of upcoming INMA Master Classes can be found here.