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The Congruence Effect Report from IAS Shows Ad Context is Critical

Jan 20, 2021

Integral Ad Science (IAS), the global leader in digital ad verification, today released a new research study, The Congruence Effect. Surveying over 1,000 U.S. consumers, this new report from IAS explores how aligning ad messaging to content sentiment impacts consumer preference.

“Contextual targeting represents a major opportunity for brands in 2021 and understanding the congruence of an ad’s message to the sentiment of its contextual surroundings is a critical piece of this puzzle,” said Tony Marlow, CMO, IAS. “This new research proves that when a contextually targeted ad includes messaging which matches the sentiment of the surrounding content it achieves greater effectiveness.

Based on its latest study, IAS uncovered the following:

  • Consumers prefer ads that are relevant to surrounding content: Consumers are more favorable toward brands whose ads are relevant to the adjacent content, and they find these ads to be more memorable. In fact, 80% of consumers say ad messages related to adjacent content impact their perception of the brand. 
  • Tailored ad messages boost consumer perception: Consumer favorability, memorability, and receptivity increases when ad messaging relates to the surrounding content, even with negative sentiment. The study showed a massive 107% increase in brand favorability, a 76% increase in memorability, and a 57% increase in receptivity when ad messaging aligned with content sentiment.
  • Avoiding content with negative sentiment misses valuable ad opportunities: Negative sentiment does not always indicate whether an environment is brand suitable. 68% of consumers are more likely to remember an ad message that is tailored to the surrounding content, even when the sentiment is negative. This demonstrates that creating ads with messaging tailored to negative content and headlines can offset unfavorable associations with the brand. By simply avoiding content with negative sentiment, advertisers would also lose scale and valuable impressions. As marketers adjust their strategies in 2021, this proves that one set of ads will not fit all content environments.  

IAS research has shown that context is critical, and The Congruence Effect demonstrates that this will continue to impact consumers as well as digital advertising plans in 2021. The results are based on the responses of US consumers in November 2020.

About Integral Ad Science

Integral Ad Science (IAS) is the global leader in digital ad verification, offering technologies that drive high-quality advertising media. IAS equips advertisers and publishers with both the insight and technology to protect their advertising investments from fraud and unsafe environments as well as to capture consumer attention, and drive business outcomes. Founded in 2009, IAS is headquartered in New York with global operations in 17 offices across 12 countries. IAS is part of the Vista Equity Partners portfolio of software companies. For more on how IAS is powering great impressions for top publishers and advertisers around the world, visit

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