Laura Quigley
Feb 11, 2021

The way you make me feel: Striking the right sentiment with consumers and context this Valentine's Day

Evidence shows that when customers feel connected to brands, they increase their spending. For Valentine’s Day, Integral Ad Science's Laura Quigley reviews how technology can help brands keep sentiment and emotion at the core of ad placements.


Advertisers globally are preparing for the post-cookie world. Deprecation of third-party cookies and the weakening of identifiers. Behavioural targeting (ads based on past or recent browsing and search history) will become more difficult for marketers. This has marked the resurgence of contextual targeting.

Contextual targeting is centered on the environment in which an ad appears, rather than individuals’ inferred intent to purchase an item or click on an ad or content based on their former, online behavioral patterns. This article looks at what sentiment, emotions, and context mean for advertisers in an increasing privacy-focused digital advertising ecosystem. 

Keep sentiments and emotions at the core of ad placements 

Let’s begin by exploring what these terms mean. The sentiment is the general mood of the page and is often inferred as positive, neutral or negative. Emotion is described as a feeling which can be caused by the situation that you are in, such as happiness, fear, disgust, sadness, or surprise.

So why do sentiments and emotions matter when it comes to context? Because brands sell to people, who have emotions and do make purchase decisions on how they feel about or perceive the brand or the product. Brands use feelings to get consumers to buy, so it’s critical that the technology that’s responsible for discerning content and context is able to effectively discern emotions, sentiments, and cultural nuances to capture the consumer's frame of mind.

What if the technology was able to read the page as a human would and understand the mood and feelings contained in a piece of content? Would that not help advertisers keep emotions at the heart of their campaigns and ensure that the ads are well placed in the “right emotional context”? For example, the goal of a luxury hotel ad is to appeal to the reader’s sense of relaxation, luxury, comfort, exclusiveness—and so the ads might be placed entirely outside of the just hospitality context and next to content that evokes those feelings too. This manner of semantic targeting lets the brand values resonate in the most appropriate emotional context.

Context supports brand reputation 

Advanced technology and solutions are available today to allow for full-page contextual analysis, which means understanding the true meaning of the page by accounting for nuances in context, language, semantics, sentiment, and emotional impact of the content. When the technology enables you to scan the story in detail, keeping in consideration the sentiments and emotions in context, you’ll be better able to differentiate a story that’s talking about something like the risk of increased death, versus a story about frontline medical workers and the sacrifices they’re making. The URL or the headline alone won’t tell the full picture.

An always-on brand safety and suitablity approach helps marketers identify brand-suitable environments while avoiding potentially damaging ones. With this approach, brands are reassured that if and when something goes wrong, they have the best possible protection in place and are in front of any controversy before it unfolds.

Privacy, please

There will be increased scrutiny on data that is collected for the purposes of advertising. 

Marketers will need to be very clear about how consumer data is used, shared, stored, with whom, and for what purposes—it's a new era of transparency that gives people more control—and this will build trust. It makes sense for marketers to request permission upfront from the consumers and there’s not a tonne of benefit in being misleading about it because without permission data it holds little value for a marketer.

Advertisers are starting to substitute that audience data with contextual intelligence. Rather than having to support all the data management and privacy regulations that go along with capturing and leaving personally identifiable information, many marketers will switch to advertising in environments that are contextually relevant and use that as a proxy for the audience. 

Whilst technology is here to guide the marketers to connect with the consumers with the right messaging in the right context, keeping consumers at the core of your marketing strategy breeds loyalty and bottom-line growth. Investing in relationships with consumers directly impacts business revenue and strengthens customer loyalty. Sprout social data suggests, when customers feel connected to brands, more than half of consumers (57%) will increase their spending with that brand and 76% will buy from them over a competitor. Happy Valentine’s day and stay connected to your consumers. 

Laura Quigley is SVP of APAC at Integral Ad Science 

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