MIAMI — Advertisers are constantly chasing the next innovation that will capture consumer attention without disrupting their viewing experience.

For Peter Crofut, VP of Business Development at Wurl, the answer lies in the harmonization of ad content with the viewer’s emotional state.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Crofut emphasizes the importance of emotional congruence, suggesting that the future of advertising, particularly in Connected TV (CTV), hinges on matching the sentiment of the ad to the content being viewed.

Crofut likens the current challenges facing CTV advertising to the early days of display and mobile advertising.

“Advertisers have precise control over who sees the ad, but they don’t have precise control of where the ad is placed,” Crofut points out. This discrepancy can lead to what he calls “negative attention or disruptive attention,” where an ad’s tone clashes with the content’s mood, creating an emotional mismatch that is jarring for the viewer.

Wurl provides video distribution and advertising services for content creators and media companies. The platform enables video producers to distribute their content across various streaming services while offering monetization opportunities through ad integration.

The Role of AI in Emotional Contextualization

The company’s strategy involves leveraging AI to evaluate emotions within the content and align them with the advertising message. “Our AI scores and looks at all of the content streams,” says Crofut. This process allows for a real-time matching of ads to the content and context, aiming to create a positive viewing experience.

Wurl’s recent product, Brand Discovery, embodies this approach. “It enables the precise matching of the ad to the content and more importantly in the context and the emotion of that programming in real time,” Crofut explains. The goal is to ensure that the sentiment and tone of the ad accord with the content, fostering a seamless and engaging viewing experience for the audience.

“We have a lot of metadata that we normalize with our AI,” he says. This data provides valuable segments for advertisers to buy inventory through various transaction methods, whether direct or via SSPs and DSPs, thus offering flexibility to buyers.

The Resurgence of Contextual Advertising

With the decline of cookie-based targeting, contextual advertising has gained renewed interest. Crofut sees this as an opportunity to create impactful moments for consumers. “We think emotions are at the center of this,” he asserts.

He believes that by starting with emotion, advertisers can significantly improve ad performance, connecting with consumers on a deeper level.

Crofut envisions contextual advertising becoming more sophisticated, with generative AI offering deeper insights into audience sentiment. “Over the next 18 months, we’re excited to see how contextual grows, but it’s really where it belongs,” he states, describing the importance of aligning ad sentiment with content to achieve storytelling, creative data, and performance in unison.

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