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Everything Relative.

Welcome to the mid 2020's.

We’ll All Become Context-Driven Advertisers

A growing shift towards contextuality is altering advertising and all agencies will have to adapt. Now that the majority of advertising dollars go to digital means that the internet is the source of every agency's core messages. We all must account for the internet from the very beginning of concepting campaigns. 


Over the years Essence, in conjunction with Google’s Media Lab, has developed many best practices for high performing ads on the Internet. One of the many areas we have seen substantial lift is by making ads contextually relevant to the moment and/or place the user is experiencing.

Point 1: Context Loves Digital <3

Think about the internet, the point of it is connecting. Email, Instagram, TikTok, streaming, blogs, podcasts, banking, Venmo, texting, maps, everything about it is connecting to people, perspectives or services. Advertising often misses personalization and interactivity and become roadblocks to what people want to do or get. Is that the kind of ad you want to have? The award-winning WK Colin Kaepernick Nike ad that is so powerful on a billboard becomes weak on the internet because it isn’t interactional. Straight up ATL campaigns universally underperform. Yet they be fixed with the client’s real goal: to make a connection. Digital ads need to be inherently contextual and interactive.

Point 2: Data Proves Relevancy Is Better 

Every placed ad should have a data component. 


As a media agency for Google, Target, and T-Mobile, we get ads from everyone. Chiat, Possible, Wunderman, Digitas, Toaster, Box, 72 and Sunny. At Essence, every ad we place has at least one data component which allows our clients to see each ad’s performance. All of our data shows that ads placed on contextually (delivered at the right moment with the right message for that moment) do remarkably better in recall and user interactions. We’ve had one campaign improve over 600% and typically we can get 2x over typical ATL messages.

Point 3: Award Shows Seeing Context

There are dozens of prestigious digital award shows all over the globe. The big shows are getting it too. No longer just TV, print and OOH, Cannes (home of the venerable Cannes Lion) has added dozens of digital categories to address this shifting landscape. Eventually digital will win the grand prize because the data will not be there for traditional campaigns. So what will win with performance? Contextually relevant content. We have already seen Cannes’ understanding this with awards for the magic that happens with our Pegasis campaigns for Google.

Start Small

If your agency doesn’t have the abilities to programmatic content there are two ways to start. 

  1. Make ads unique to the publishers you pick then have your media serve to those locations. 

  2. Make a broad set of varying messages that support your ATL campaigns and have your media team rotate them in market. 

Either way, your ads will become more relevant to viewers and less pasted on a the page.

Plan Now for Dynamic Content (Programmatic)

We will show how to build dynamic content in our fourth article: How To Build Contextual Advertising.

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