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From the Blog

Why Context Is Everything In Advertising

Advertising context is incredibly important when it comes to our creative considerations. It’s really what it’s all about, because it tells us how to most effectively communicate. You have to use the brand rules as inspiration of course, but the context is really everything.

When envisioning an ad, it’s more important to start with the context and then create rather than vice versa. You can’t try to reverse engineer an idea to fit a format; the compromise will show for all to see. We always start with the context. What are our options? What’s the sandbox look like? We only want to build a sandcastle with the toys at our disposal. We’re more creative with parameters in place.

Context is especially important when considering ad placement. If you’re thinking about advertising on Fox News for example, you need to keep in mind that it’s a very polarizing media outlet. To some it’s the gospel, while to others it’s the exact opposite. So if a brand like Whole Foods, that has more of a liberal, consumer-conscious image, advertises in the middle of Bill O’Reilly’s show, the audiences for both might be confused or put off by the association.

When it comes to context, you do your best to assemble the research you need to make the best decisions. But sometimes even that’s out of your hands, especially with retargeter ads online. I was recently retargeted by the NRA while visiting a vegetarian/vegan recipe blog. If you took a screenshot out of context, some people may really believe this vegan blog was choosing to take money from the NRA for advertising, something which goes against the core beliefs of many in their audience. But when you have more control over an ad placement situation, it’s always to your advantage to exert it.

With any form of advertising, you need to consider what your clients will respond to. But as far as creating design, you should consider the context. You could have 10 locations, whether that’s environmental or print or digital, and all 10 of those have the potential to communicate to different segments of your audience that all want your products or services. They just want different pieces of them, and they both need to be respected in different ways.

There’s been a lot made lately about the fragmenting of audiences. We don’t come together like we used to; now we have a million things to choose from. I think the more you can speak to different audiences in the places they live, the better off you are.