For the modern online marketer, there is a wide variety of ways to market a business, product or service to consumers. The downside of this is that it can lead to questions about which tactics works best. While the answer will vary based on the target audience and the type of business, a recent study has data that can help marketers works best for them.

A new, small-scale study by Newsworks, the Association for Online Publishing (AOP) and Neuro-Insight found that in some situations, contextually placed PPC ads can be more effective at soliciting engagement than content on social media. The study is based on data collected from 139 online users. The sample size may be small, but there are useful insights to be gained from the study.

One major finding of the study is that ads placed in a premium context are viewed for longer, have higher engagement (29 percent higher) and generate higher levels of left-brain encoding (42 percent higher) than when those same ads are placed within social media.

The study featured three sections. First,participants freely browsed different websites via either desktop or mobile and naturally encountered various different brand communications. Second, they were shown ads in different contexts. Each respondent saw the same test ads in two different environments; a premium editorial context and a social media context. And third, participants viewed a film of someone navigating an online journey through both a premium site and a social media site.

Throughout each section, the participants' brain responses were individually measured and time stamped so as to determine brain response at any one point in time. Analysis involved looking at average levels of response to each ad in its different context.

As was noted in an article that mentioned the research, the AOP research "found that ads seen on a premium publisher site are viewed for 17 percent longer, create 29 percent higher engagement (due to personal relevance) and generate greater levels of left brain and right brain memory encoding than ads on Facebook and YouTube. Memory encoding is key because it correlates with decision-making and purchase intent."

Remember, this isn't to say that social media marketing and ads are not effective. There's plenty of evidence to show that social media ads work. However, the data from AOP is a reminder that social media isn't the only way to market things online in the 21st Century. And that is some cases, using traditional PPC ads via Google or another ad publisher may do a better job of generating the kind of response desired.

This data also serves as a reminder that the success of any ad campaign, PPC or social, depends on fine tuning the targeting. Getting ads to work depends on them having the right message, sent to the right people at the right time. It's important that marketers experiment with each of these variables to find what works best for their audience.

For more recent research that can help business owners create better marketing campaigns, read this article on the possibilities and peril of using social issues to promote a brand.

Published on: Feb 12, 2018
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