Xandr's Jill Siegel: Relevance Is the Right Way to Reach an Audience

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"It's not necessarily about the platform or about the ad format," said Jill Siegel, assistant vice president, business intelligence, at Xandr. "It's about the relevance of the ad itself." That was one of the key takeaways from the company's second annual Relevance Report , which leverages Xandr's unique position in the marketplace as an advertising company with access to consumer insights, scaled distribution, and premium content.

Relevance is defined by the ability of an ad to meet a consumer need at a specific moment in time and evoke an emotion, according to the research study. That combination of factors presents a powerful pull on the consumer's engagement with an ad, which results in not only more satisfaction for the consumer, but also better results for the advertiser.

"Relevance is the key driver to how receptive consumers are to advertising," Siegel said. This is a pivotal finding because often, in the pursuit of innovation, companies can lose sight of the importance of relevance as a connector to the consumer. "It still needs to be a good experience for the consumer and connected to their interests," she added.

In addition to relevance, "we were also fascinated by how consumers are spending their time with all different types of content," Siegel revealed. "We might possibly be at a peak point of time spent with media."

Nielsen reported in 2018 that viewers are spending more than eleven hours a day with media, which is a small gain from the previous year. This may indicate a saturation point, as there are only so many hours in a day. "The reason we think that's interesting is because, at a certain point, we are maxing out and simply cannibalizing time spent with other platforms," Siegel said.

2019 Study Objectives

This year's Relevance Report presented an opportunity to solidify baselines that were established in the previous study, as well as gain a deeper understanding of relevance and consumer trends. Siegel expressed that although "everyone is focused on what will be the next innovative thing," the study also needed to answer the basics:

· What do we need to do to get and keep consumer attention?

· Are we moving toward innovative ad experiences, such as six-second ads that can transfer across screens?

Xandr surveyed 2,000 adult consumers across all age ranges for the study. "We wanted to see the age-break differences. That was essential to understanding what is coming next," Siegel explained. The company also polled marketers. "We were evenly distributed across in-house agency brands and in-house marketers with more than $1 million in investments in any video."

The study focused on the convergence of digital and TV as an ideal solution for advertisers, understanding that true convergence could happen within the next two years. In this scenario, cross-platform measurement will be critical in answering questions such as, "How do you count everyone who is watching?" and, conversely, "How do you make sure that every impression counts?"

The study also yielded positive news for advertisers. "Consumers are not anti-advertising, they're pro-content," she said. "They are actually very receptive to advertising, especially because it underwrites their content experience. They know that is what's supporting the content they like and that is how they're getting their content at a subsidized cost. Advertising helps them."

2018 to 2019 Study Comparisons

Because the media ecosystem is transforming fairly rapidly, one might expect big changes in the study results year over year. However, Siegel noted, "For the most part, people are using the same products as they did in the past."

This year, the study's focus shifted to platforms and formats, leading to additional behavioral insights. "Last year was about taking the temperature," she explained. "This created our baseline for what was considered relevant and laid the groundwork for us to understand engagement" even further.

Perhaps the real value of the study is its ability to parse all of the deciding factors in consumers' content consideration. "It used to be all about [brands'] creative. And consumers have high expectations for high-quality creative," she concluded. "But we are finding that the focus now is also how to best target an audience. It's not just about the creative. It's how brands can use that creative to best reach their audience."

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