Research Digest

How Context and Ad Positioning Affects the Success of Your CTV Ads


  • Pairing your Connected TV commercial with the right content drives business outcomes. Studies revealed an average 23% lift in sales.
  • Mood and emotion carries-on from programming to commercial, as viewer’s thoughts and feelings do not immediately cease when interrupted by a commercial break.
  • Viewers resonate to commercials differently at various times of the day, depending on the type of commercial (consumer products versus service brands).

A solid Connected TV commercial produces better results when it’s served alongside the right content. However, many questions remain—what defines the ‘right content’? And how can brands ensure that the audience they are targeting aligns with this content? Thankfully, there is a lot of data available via Connected TV advertising platforms to show brands the best way to deploy ads—but deciphering that data can be problematic, let alone make it actionable at scale. This is why partnering with the right tech stack matters, as it automates a lot of the nuances and manual work of an advertising campaign—especially when it comes to ensuring ads are served in the most effective way possible.

This article explores the nuances in CTV programming and inventory that brands need to take into account when planning their campaigns at scale. Solidifying an understanding of these learnings and relying on the automation available via Connected TV advertising allows advertisers to make use of a variety of targeting approaches—but most importantly, the ones that deliver the best results.  

The Emotion ‘Flow On’ Effect

Context can matter, especially when it’s an emotional one. Which is why programming affects viewer’s response to how they view and process a commercial. The Advertising Research Foundation’s ‘How Advertising Works’ project revealed that emotions built up from watching a program don’t end once the commercial break starts. This means that the upbeat and endorphin filled emotions from a comedy program continue during the commercial break. Alternatively a more serious program (like watching a drama, documentary or the news) that requires more attention means being better adept to pick up more complex messaging in the following ad break. The context of other ads in ad pod can also affect performance. For example, during the US Presidential Election, it was found that political ad campaigns generated anger and a lower-mood, which trickled through to the next commercial in the ad pod, therefore making it less effective.  

It doesn’t stop there, though. This flow-on effect applies across channels—further demonstrating the importance of matching media channels to audiences and having an omni-channel approach. For example, the TV screen is the biggest screen in the house and therefore one of the most engaging mediums. It also supports second-screen behavior and acts as a complementary channel to other devices—especially when ‘sequencing’ an advertising campaign. By airing on a high-impact format like Connected TV first, any subsequent messaging (across other channels) serves as a friendly reminder. Connected TV advertising acts as an ideal ‘starting point’ for campaigns, and related ads served across other household devices such as desktops, phones, or tablets act as effective follow-ups to that initial, engaging touchpoint.  

Engagement Differs Between Service and Consumer Product Brands

Additionally, research studies also show reach (as defined by the percentage of people who report a brand experience, not the traditional media definition) and engagement at various points of the day for service versus consumer product brands. The visualizations below summarize millions of data points across paid, owned and earned media, where research participants indicate what happens when they encounter brands—from the brand, touchpoint, time of day, through to how positive the experience is and how likely the experience makes them to choose the brand next time. 

Reach builds over the day and peaks at prime time for consumer brands. There is no correlation between reach and engagement though—the chart shows that viewers are generally more positive and receptive to brand messages in the morning and again later in the evening. The morning peak is driven by TV advertising, as the cheery music and mood of packaged goods advertising acts as a mood enhancer for viewers.

Reach Builds Up Throughout the Day, Peaking at Prime Time—But Engagement Doesn't Follow the Same Pattern

However, service brands produce a different result, as we see engagement peak in the evening. This is because audiences have more time to absorb complex messaging from these types of brands at the end of the day after work.

Service Experiences Are More Engaging From 6pm Onwards

The beauty of Connected TV advertising as a marketing channel is in its approach. Ad solutions equipped with the right capabilities can automate the whole process of deciphering when, what or where a viewer will be watching, by serving a CTV ad to a viewer at the time they’re most likely to engage, paired alongside content that is aligned with both brand and viewer to produce optimal results. 

Still, it is a good best practice for brands to pay attention to the types of channels in their marketing mix and consider the ‘order’ in which ads are served to the audience for the best outcome. 


Connected TV advertising performance is driven as much by the context of where an ad appears as the ad creative itself. There exists a clear emotional domino effect from viewing a programme through to the commercial break, and even between ads in an ad pod.  However, in order to make the most of these insights, advertisers must lean on the technological advancements offered by CTV platforms as this data not only shows us that there is a better way to advertise, and that the technology makes this data actionable at scale. 

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