The Importance of Context in Advertising

4 min

The Importance of Context in Advertising

We’ve all experienced things that were out of context. Whether it was a comment that a friend made, a video clip of a celebrity saying something strange, or anything else along those lines, things seem different when you don’t know the full story. 

The more social media, advertising, and brands evolve with society, the more common it has become to rely on “the wow factor” to get an audience’s attention. This has turned into what we know as “clickbait” content. 

Clickbait content often looks like this:

“5 LIFE-CHANGING tips for [insert topic]”, or “You HAVE to try this [new product].”

It’s highly engaging and drives traffic, but it comes with some issues surrounding clarity and exaggeration. 

The best way to create advertising content that’s both engaging AND truthful is to utilize context. If you’re putting your messages in the right places with the right positioning, you won’t have to exaggerate and use clickbait. Your audience will already be primed to seek more information.

What do We Mean By Context? 

Many times, advertisers make the mistake of creating their ad, email, or social post before even considering the context in which it will be displayed. This gets the process backward. 

Advertisers need to think about the who, what, where, when, why, and how of their messaging long before they write the first line of copy. All of this information is what makes up the context. 

Context encapsulates timing, platform, supporting marketing materials, landing pages, frequency, target audience, and other defining factors that keep your messaging aligned and unified. 


Ask yourself—who will you be talking to? Think not only about the general characteristics that make up your audience but what their interests are, their social media presence, views, ideologies, etc.

Demographic details like generational differences can make or break your copy, so you need to pay attention to them. 

For example, if your brand is trying to advertise a new sustainable and cruelty-free product, your target demographic should be younger generations. According to Forbes, more than 54% of Gen Zs are willing to spend more money on sustainable products vs only 34% of Gen X, and even fewer Baby Boomers. 

In summary, you need to make sure your advertising is aimed in the right direction. If you speak directly to a receptive audience, you’ll get so much more value out of your advertising spend. 


Where will your ad be shown? Will you be using several platforms or focusing on just one? 

Different media platforms have different recipes for success—if you use the exact same content across all the different platforms you probably won’t have great results. 

Keep in mind that different platforms have different audiences on them, with different mindsets and reasons for being online. 

For example, LinkedIn is a great platform for spreading professional content and making sure that your audience knows about the “authority” you have on a specific topic or industry. Educational and professional development content performs well on LinkedIn since their demographic tends to be people concerned about their continuing education and development. 

Instagram, on the other hand, is one of the most visual platforms you could use. Your messaging should be more about “showing” rather than “telling.” Use this visual platform to communicate your brand story with images and videos that bring you to life. 

More than ⅓ of Instagram users say they are more interested in a brand after seeing their IGTV and Stories. 

Advertisement Context—Gone Wrong

While there are plenty of ads and social media posts that clearly and effectively communicate to us, there are some of them that flop horribly. 

The biggest flops almost always share one common attribute—they got the context completely wrong. 

The actual content could’ve been alright, but the way in which it was delivered was probably what did them in. These scenarios can make brands seem incredibly out of touch, especially when it comes to media trends and especially social movements. 

For example, Burger King caught a lot of flack with their infamous International Women’s Day controversy. 

When you look at the situation as a whole, you’ll realize that Burger King simply wanted to advocate for women’s equality and raise awareness about the lack of female leadership in the culinary industry. However, their messaging had a HORRIBLE double entendre that undermined everything they were trying to say. It was bad…really bad. 

Here’s what their content graphic’s headline said: “Women belong in the kitchen.” Let that sink in. 

There was smaller lettering explaining their mission and providing context, but the headline was the only thing people were looking at. Even though the context was located directly underneath the headline, the whole post came across as incredibly tone-deaf and out of touch. Twitter lit them on fire. 

Twitter is a platform full of younger users who hold social activism and other related issues incredibly close to their hearts. No matter the intent of Burger King with this campaign, it didn’t land. 

The attention-grabbing aspect of the Tweet simply grabbed too much attention, in the worst way possible. A better outcome could have resulted from Burger King being crystal-clear about what they meant, especially with a huge headline on a social media platform that’s known for circulating content quickly and passionately. 

Burger King took down the Tweet and apologized for the damage it caused. Lesson learned: context really is everything. 

You CAN be bold with your advertising, just with appropriate and effective context. Additionally, check your gut. If there are alarm bells going off when you’re thinking about posting something, you probably shouldn’t do it.

How Will You Utilize Context in Your Advertising?

Let’s review what context means for your messaging. Context is the moving target of your content. It’s the who, what, where, when, why, and how of advertising. 

Always ask yourself who your audience is. How will this audience take what you have given them and what will they do about it? Make sure that your messaging always makes sense and pushes people to be on your side. 

Put your messages on the right platforms. Consider who is on different media platforms, why they’re there, what they’re looking for, and what drives the most engagement. 

Think about which pieces of your marketing will be complimented the best by which media platforms. Don’t put long-form text-based educational content on Instagram. Create content that’s primed to perform well.  

All in all, you want to speak to the correct audience where they are, in the way they want to be talked to, with messaging that tells a clear and engaging story.

We Practice what We Preach.

At Deksia, we understand that context in advertising is an incredibly important ingredient in the recipe for marketing success. 

That’s why we engineer marketing strategies for our clients that incorporate distinct brand personalities, with messaging and tactics that reflect them across platforms that are proven to bring results. 

We use powerful data to make sure our tactics are running how they’re supposed to, with access to live dashboards and in-depth reporting metrics. 

Our approach to marketing is carefully calculated and proactive. It’s what allows our clients to be systematically growing, selling, expanding, and scaling. 

Contact us to learn more about our process and discover how we can make your brand’s marketing strategy work more effectively!