The 2018 NBA Finals have come and gone. In the end, the Warriors were victorious after meeting the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year, and YouTube TV elevated the experience with a real-time cool factor that we thought was worth highlighting. Their “Presented by YouTube TV” advertising campaign effectively blurred the lines between content and advertising in a truly contextually relevant way.

If you didn’t see the ad, here’s a quick run down. The 60-second spot highlighted the service’s key features, but what’s unique in this specific case is that the ad seemed to organically pull sports-related content into the ad to make those features even more relevant to an audience watching the NBA Finals. This is contextual targeting at its best.

Now, what made this spot truly unique is that, at the end, Warriors star, Kevin Durant gets comfy on the sofa in front of his TV, gives the announcer on the TV, Doris Burke a quick shoutout, and then presses play to watch the game – the irony here is that the game he’s watching on TV is the game in which he’s actually playing at that moment. (Timely, eh?) Then, in wrapping up the spot, Burke acknowledges the shout out and then the live game seamlessly resumes.

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Beyond Cool: Why does this matter?

So, you may be asking yourself: why do we think an ad like this is so important to call out? The answer is simple. Given changing consumer behaviors, the recent introduction of GDPR, and the continuing evolution of the technologies that impact virtually every part of the day-to-day, the fact that YouTube TV’s ad is not only contextually personalized – based on whatever show the consumer is watching – but that it also blurs the lines between (advertising) content and the real world means the very notion of “advertising” today is rapidly changing. In fact, it’s already changed – and in a pretty big way. This is a good thing for consumers (and brands).

In fact, in a recent study that we conducted with IPG and Magna, we found that content targeting is a much less disruptive – and therefore, much more effective – video advertising solution (vs. demographic/audience targeting and channel targeting). In content targeting, for example, advertising complements the content and sometimes actually feels as though it’s a part of the content itself.

When there is such a strong contextually relevant link between content and advertising, it’s been shown that the perception of the ads associated with that video content receives a lift. Why? Because consumers like unified, consistent, and non-intrusive content experiences. When ads are mismatched with content, they feel like ads. When they complement content, they feel like content.

This is a major win for brands and explains in large part why we’re now seeing a massive shift towards content targeting across all brands and categories, especially in the face of GDPR. It’s simply a more effective strategy for video advertising. Data proves it to be true. Consumer sentiment proves it to be true. Most importantly, it creates a more pleasant – and potentially more trusted – overall viewing experience for consumers.