Context, consumers & advertising - the latest insight from IAS


Consumer Behaviour

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Paul Nasse, Northern Europe MD, Integral Ad Science discusses the role context plays in effective targeting


Context is incredibly important in nearly all instances, not least in its role in delivering effective ad targeting. For automated technology, such as programmatic, targeting a user based on the context of the page the user is on can prove highly effective – not to mention provide a viable alternative to the recent shift from cookie-based targeting. For example, understanding that reference to a ‘jaguar’ was about the animal, not the car manufacturer, could make the difference between getting an ad for a wildlife zoo, and the latest Jaguar model.

Context absolutely matters when it comes to targeted advertising. But what about the consumers receiving the adverts – how do they actually want to be targeted by advertisers? 

IAS undertook research with 526 UK consumers to find out how they feel being targeted online, the use of the data that is used to do this, and how advertisers can continue to achieve results in a cookie-less world. Here’s what we found: 


Consumers prefer brands to target them based on their behaviour and context

  • 48% prefer contextually targeted ads

  • 35% are receptive to ads based on their previous purchases

  • 34% want to be targeted based on their browsing history 


Consumers are growing more aware of their data privacy online

  • 87% are aware websites and apps collect and share their data for advertising purposes

  • 67% are confident in the security of their data

  • 50% believe the security of their data is their own responsibility


There remains resistance from consumers around the sharing and understanding of how their data is used

  • 62% are still clearing/deleting their browser history

  • 61% would prefer a less targeted ad experience, rather than sharing their data

  • 33% are not even aware of any data privacy regulations


Our top takeaways include:

  1. Data privacy remains top of mind for consumers, despite a significant proportion of respondents unaware of current privacy regulations

  2. Consumers are aware of online data collection but still care deeply about their data privacy, so much so that they’re taking action to restrict their data collection online

  3. However, consumers are receptive to ads in the right environment and prefer contextual targeting methods

  4. Context matters. Evolving privacy regulation and consumer preference will require a shift to contextual targeting – this will change the future of advertising

Based on the findings, it’s clear consumers have made progress in their understanding about how they receive the ads on their screen, but there remains some concerns around the safety of how their data is used online.  

It’s great news that contextual targeting is in fact preferred by consumers. Now is the time for advertisers to take this approach and use it to effectively engage with their audience, while also navigating the loss of third-party cookies.

You heard it from the horse’s mouth – it’s what consumers want! Context has officially been appointed King.

Download the full report here.

By Paul Nasse, Northern Europe MD

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 18 offices across 13 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

Posted on: Wednesday 17 June 2020