Neuroprogrammatic Is the Future of Contextual Advertising

Contextual advertising, the practice of serving audiences ads based on the content they consume instead of their characteristics, is enjoying a resurgence as advertisers look for ways to target ads without relying on user data. 

Contextual ads typically appear alongside thematically similar content, targeting consumers via the context of their consumption. For example, an ad for swimwear might appear at the end of an article about swimming, or an ad for enterprise healthcare software could run in a healthcare trade publication.

The return to contextual technology has led many to question whether it can be as effective as ads tailored to specific users. Research has shown contextual advertising is not just as effective but possibly even more effective than audience data-driven advertising at a similar cost.

Still, contextual advertising has yet to reach its peak potential. Cutting-edge advertisers are not merely matching ads to content based on topics. They contextually target ads based on emotion and a granular understanding of the moods of the audiences they want to reach. The technology bringing about this reinvention of contextual targeting is called neuroprogrammatic, and it represents the future of contextual advertising.

Understanding Neuroprogrammatic Advertising

Behavioral and demographic targeting based on customer data has dominated digital advertising for years. These forms of targeting rest on the assumption that the most effective way to convert audiences into customers is to target users who have engaged with a brand before or fit the profile of someone interested in a product. But they do not account for the environment in which the advertiser and audience meet.

Neuroprogrammatic advertising attempts to address this shortcoming by matching the emotional content of the ad to the content with which the consumer is engaging, and thereby the emotions of the consumer.

For example, a celebratory and optimistic ad that seeks to find a consumer in a hopeful mood to trigger an inspirational, discretionary purchase should not appear next to content likely to elicit anger or sadness. Neuroprogrammatic targeting accounts for this X factor.

How? By using natural language processing, neuroprogrammatic can categorize the feelings at work in an ad and the sentiments of the content the audience consumes. Then, it can pair ads to emotional contexts that make emotional and topical sense.

All the better, this can happen without any user data, so neuroprogrammatic targeting positions brands and publishers to comply with privacy regulations.

Building on Contextual Targeting’s Promise

Advertisers are understandably concerned that contextual targeting will not be as effective as serving ads for a pair of shoes to someone who has browsed those shoes. The latter is a deterministic connection, whereas contextual targeting relies on inference: Contextual advertisers assume that someone engaging with ads about LeBron James, a Nike representative, and athlete, may be likelier than average to purchase a Nike product.

But neuroprogrammatic goes beyond topical content matching to target the subconscious feelings that lead consumers to make purchasing decisions. It does not just target that basketball fan; it targets them when they are most likely to purchase a new pair of shoes based on the emotional profile of the content with which they are engaging in a given moment.

In other words, neuroprogrammatic targeting cuts to the core of what makes topics relevant to a consumer in the first place—how consumers are feeling and thinking, what actions they may or may not be in the mood to take, and therefore how likely they are to respond to an ad. Neuroprogrammatic targeting uses AI to cater to precisely what makes us human.

Fostering a Human-centric Future of Digital Advertising 

When planning for a more privacy-oriented future, which has driven so many advertisers to take another look at contextual targeting, we often miss the core point of the data privacy movement. It is not about developing alternative tracking methods to replace the cookie or Apple’s IDFA. It’s about developing ways to better understand consumers on their own, noninvasive terms and serving them content they want to see alongside the regular programming they enjoy. 

So where do you begin? There are a few ways to go about this. Many agencies have already defined their cohorts to drive better experiences and outcomes. If this is your situation, you must partner with a company that can map your segments to the correct feelings and emotions. At RESET, we map your target segments to 65 core emotions and desired ontological states. 

If you are a smaller agency and still need a system that has defined ideal groups of people for a brand, begin by working with a consultant or team who can help you create the personas that fit and match the brands you represent. Or, you can do what early adapters like MilkPep (Gale) and Troy-Bilt (Marcus Thomas) did in their early days… leverage the emotions and feelings as pure contextual signals that drive results.

By understanding consumers’ emotions, leveraging only consensual user data to enhance contextual targeting, and serving audiences’ messages consistent with their media environments, advertisers can put the human back at the center of their campaigns. More substantial results and a more sustainable media ecosystem will follow.