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also because the nature of these changes is never likely to slow down. In five or 10 years time, we are likely to look back tothe present day as a time of relative calm and clarity. The better, therefore, that we understand the context in whichconsumers choose and interact with content, the better equipped we will be to identify moments of potential receptivity and tocreate communications that resonate and deliver greater impact and RoI for brands, and to build sustainable communicationplatforms.To date, when considering the issue of context, much of the attention has rightly been given to media context. What type ofprogramming is in proximity to my ad? What kind of audience is delivered and when? It has been hard to look systematically atlittle else without recourse to many different data sets – often ill-suited to a task for which they were not originally designed.While the media context is and always will be critical, when looking at the factors that influence how people use media andhow they respond to brand communications, other dimensions of context are equally important – especially in light of thegrowing consumer control over media experiences.The five dimensions of contextThe UKs Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) first developed a solution that addressed four of the five dimensions ofcontext with IPA TouchPoints – a project principally aimed at measuring cross-platform media use. They are:1. LocationNow that media penetrate almost every location – and because we carry media with us 24/7 – the importance of knowingwhere audiences are more likely to be at different times in the day or week will inform an understanding of the consumermindset, attentiveness and openness to brand messaging, time available to respond and interact etc. Location alsoinforms media selection, as not all media are equally well represented in each type of location, and it can inform creativemessaging.2. ActivityPeople use media before, during and after almost all activities. Whether preparing or eating food, going shopping,working, socialising, commuting or driving, each activity is of greater or lesser relevance to brands. Understanding whichmedia predominate while different activities are pursued is key to developing right time, right place communicationsstrategies. It is also the key to developing media sequencing strategies relating to specific target audiences.3. Social settingThe presence of others affects people in many ways. Depending on who is present, emotions and sociability areimpacted, as is attentiveness. People also share media experiences to enhance their enjoyment of them. The presence ofother people impacts the roles people adopt and how they behave as a result – in different settings, one person will be aparent, a co-worker or boss, a spouse or partner, a sibling, a friend etc. All of these roles and identities can result indifferent responses to brand communications. Understanding when a mother routinely spends time with her childrenduring the week is as important to one brand as it is for another to know when the socialising prime times are for 18 to 34year-old males.4. MediaThe circumstances in which different media are chosen and what they are used for is indicative of the desire for contentor communication and the sense of engagement with it. Each mediums breadth of functionality and interactivity alsoimpacts the relationship with it as well as its use by marketers. On some occasions, a medium is chosen because there Downloaded from warc.com 3
are few available to suit the need, on others the medium is chosen from among many.The Media Behavior Institute in New York began a collaboration with the IPA some years ago and – following extensivetesting and development for the US market – has since launched TouchPoints to similar success. This was when thestudy started to be deployed via a smartphone app and when the fifth contextual dimension of mood and emotion wasadded – developments that have now also been adopted in the UK.5. Moods and emotionsA better understanding of moods and emotions – and how they relate to different situations – obviously has the potentialto be used to inform creative messaging, scheduling and more. A good communications brief will always define emotionaltonality and understanding when the target audience is more likely to be experiencing such moods and emotions. USATouchPoints includes a mood and alertness scale as well as 17 distinct emotional mindsets representing a range ofemotion "Each mediums breadth of functionality and interactivity also impacts the relationship with it" and degrees ofintensity. Identifying when these are more likely to occur in the lives of the target audience has been successfully used toinform media selection and messaging strategies. As more brands come to rely more heavily on emotional connectionswith consumers as points of differentiation – in a world where tangible product differentiation is difficult to achieve and allbut impossible to sustain – the need to link key emotions to other behaviours and activities (media use, categoryconsumption etc.) becomes increasingly important.IPA TouchPoints and USA TouchPoints are now a major part of their respective media and marketing environments, withplanners, strategists, marketers, sales and new-business executives using the data to inform decision-making across a rangeof disciplines.Contextual variables influence receptivity. Receptivity is a function of a priming, emotional congruence, involvement, mood,and timing – all the psychological effects that have been studied relative to advertising for a great many years. And eachdimension of context provides different constraints and opportunities to planners, strategists, creatives, and brand marketers.With an understanding of these they can gain deeper insights and shape more effective and resonant communications. Theimportance of being able to examine data on all of these dimensions of context through one sample designed for the purposeis not to be under-estimated. Indeed many questions may remain unanswered and opportunities left begging without it.Inevitably, structuring an approach to communications that resonate with the audience by placing equal emphasis on each ofthe Five Dimensions is a complex process and perhaps unnecessarily so. Equal emphasis on all five may not be necessary,but having insights relating to each of these dimensions along with others derived from further primary research or client-specific data can make a triangulation of these factors a rich source of inspiration for identifying the heart of right time, rightplace communications strategies that run across all media.As an example of how this approach can be used in practice, Figure 1 illustrates how Ingenuity Media at the Martin Agencyused USA TouchPoints, sales data and store traffic data to orient media choice and, therefore, to develop creative around thesocial contexts of young male diners for a Quick Service Restaurant pitch during the key consideration windows for both lunchand dinner. Downloaded from warc.com 4
Figure 1: Target media and messaging by solo and social mealsSource: USA TouchPointsThe analysis revealed that many more of the target ate alone at lunch (personal buying decision) than later in the day and thatthe media used leading up to lunch and dinner (a group buying decision) were each different. Although digital played a part inboth, the form digital media took were very different, reflecting the time of day and, to some extent, the different social settings(Figure 1).The value here is not only being able to identify the extent to which the target eats alone or with others throughout the day(and at which types of establishments), but which kind of media they are most heavily exposed to before, during and afterthose moments at which the business critical decision of ‘What shall I/we eat? is made.With a level of contextual understanding, based on the social ebbs and flows of peoples days and weeks, communicationsplanning takes on another dimension, which no amount of passive monitoring or Big Data are ever likely to deliver.In another example, an analysis was done to better understand the behaviours of consumers who are shopping during thepost-lunch peak shopping time of 1.30pm-2.00pm in the hour before that time so that targeting and messaging can be betterinformed (Figure 2). This analysis took into account all those who were shopping but it could just as easily have focused on amore narrowly defined target (perhaps shopping at a different time).Figure 2: The early afternoon paths to purchaseSource: USA TouchPointsThe analysis reveals an array of key behavioural factors ranging from the fact that many of the shoppers had already begun Downloaded from warc.com 5
their shopping during the hour in question (which would account for the high showing of Digital Out Of Home media). Radio isindicative of the number of people driving to and between stores (ubiquitous in the US outside of the main metropolitan areas)and this is why, in this particular analysis, it is the strongest path-to-purchase medium for that hour and consumer. But clearlyit is not the only medium, and alongside the rest of the analysis, it is possible to paint a more comprehensive picture of thesequence of locations, media used, emotional states, etc. which can be leveraged to good effect.Planners in the US and the UK are finding interesting and creative ways to maximise the use of the five context dimensions.They are targeting media to the times when social setting matters most – when mums and kids are together, for instance, orwhen spouses are out and about. Planners are finding new opportunities to speak to more than one audience at a time aboutthings that concern them both – a new healthy snack, for instance, or a home improvement project.By taking the contextual dimensions into account, planners can also reallocate their TV-centric plans into the media that aremost relevant and used in closest proximity to important brand moments. Those marketing a luxury car might select media inwhich husbands and wives are out together on a Saturday night, where the condition of their car might not be quite up to the‘date night they are experiencing. Planners thinking about when to talk to people about money and finances can identifymoments where consumers are worried and alone – moments where fears can predominate, and place ads that address theproblem in those moments. Or they may find, through a combination of qualitative research or secondary research, that peoplethink about money issues when they bank online or head to an ATM or bank branch. The five contextual dimensions can beused to make more creative use of the extensive array of media choices consumers have at their disposal.And account planners are using the contextual dimensions to endow their brands with an emotional profile and match thatprofile with the right content opportunities. Indeed, pitches are currently being won, in part, on the basis of this kind of use ofthe five dimensions of context.Emotional dimensions are most certainly not new. Weve known about them and their importance to advertising receptivity forsome time. However, the ability to quantify them and see them arrayed throughout the day and week and understand withcertainty how to characterise the environment in which they occur, is new, noteworthy and a powerful tool in the ever-expanding arsenal of the communications industry.About the authorMike Bloxham is executive director, marketing at the Media Behavior Institute. His chief area of expertise is consumerresponse to emerging media and how they impact media firstname.lastname@example.orgAlice Sylvester is co-founder and COO of the Media Behavior Institute. She has also worked at agencies including DraftFCB,Y&R and JWT.email@example.com Downloaded from warc.com 6