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Context matters

Context matters: moving beyond reach and algorithms

Imagine you want some advice on what TV show to watch. Which person would have the most impact on you: your best friend, or the neighbor down the road? And when would you be most likely to fully engage in a conversation on the subject: in a train during rush hour, or on the couch at home? These questions are clear examples of why context matters. The better the context, the more likely you will listen and remember. This philosophy used to be common sense in marketing. Especially in the Aughts, context was a hot topic that was much written about. However, with the strong rise of programmatic and audience-based media buying, advertisers largely forgot about the crucial importance of context. Not surprisingly, this has led to some embarrassing advertising moments and has made “brand safety” one of the buzzwords of the last years.

In a world where we see advertising impact declining, ad blockers on the rise, and automated buying algorithms taking over from human thinking, it is more and more important to focus on the quality of advertising (not just its quantity and cost). Luckily, marketers have seen the light again, because there has been a significant rebirth of the importance of contextual advertising. In a recent study by WARC, some 61 percent of marketers say that context is now even more important than costs!

61% of marketers now find context more important than costs

 (Source: The marketers toolkit 2019, WARC)

Again, it makes sense that context is seen as a crucial element within media planning. In numerous scientific studies, the impact of context has been proven. A recent meta-analysis across many such studies revealed that there are three key context factors that impact advertising effectiveness: 1) media involvement; 2) congruency between brand and context; and 3) appealing media content. As an industry, we need to quickly move beyond reach and impressions, and ensure that context remains a key element in planning choices and buying algorithms.

This is exactly why MediaCom, GroupM, and Kantar have joined forces to apply the renowned brand equity study BrandZ™ to media brands in the Netherlands. By doing so, we now have insight into the brand strength of 71 brands across five different media categories. In this special section, we will exclusively reveal the Top 30 media brands in the Netherlands, and show how insights from BrandZ™ can play an important role for both advertisers and media owners.

To arrive at this ranking, we questioned 4,000 respondents, measuring 71 media brands across five different media categories. This led to a Brand Strength score for each individual media brand. This score was then combined with industry reach figures to create the Influence Index score on which our media brands are ranked. We believe that this new Influence Index will help marketers better select and plan their media strategy by understanding which media brands best connect with Dutch consumers. In the process, advertisers can select the contexts and media brands that make the most sense for them.

That marketers are once again embracing context as a key criterion in their media plans is great news. And the fact that we now have a huge brand equity database for 71 media brands makes this news even better. We can’t wait to work with you to maximize the benefits for your brand or company.


  1. Good things come fast. Netflix has been in the market for only 6 years, but already ranks as the top media brand. Although Netflix is not even in the top ten among media brands in the Netherlands in measures of Reach, it has such a strong Brand Strength rating that it still outperforms all other brands in the overall Influence Index ranking.
  2. NOS is the strongest Dutch-owned media brand. In a time where there is a lot of debate about the image of news media, our BrandZ™ study shows that the future could still be bright for news brands. Indeed, one of these brands, NOS, was even able to enter the Netherlands’ top three, accompanying entertainment media giants like Netflix and YouTube.
  3. Video platforms dominate the top ten. Video platforms occupy six out of the top ten media brands in the Netherlands, in a strong testament to the strength of this category (which overall placed 13 brands in the Netherlands’ Top 30 media brands). These brands performed well thanks to a combination of highly positive consumer attitudes and high Reach. Another interesting insight: if we strip Reach out of the equation and solely look at Brand Strength, the top three video brands in the Netherlands are all non-traditional video platforms: Netflix, YouTube, and Videoland.
  4. Social platforms have work to do. Only three social platforms have been able to find their way into the Top 30: WhatsApp, YouTube, and Facebook.
  5. Global media brands rule.  Global media brands rule their categories, both in measures of their overall Influence Index as well as in measures of Brand Strength. What’s more, four out of the top ten media brands in the Netherlands are global players. And if we look at the top five media brands in measures of Brand Strength, global brands become even more prevalent, with Netflix, WhatsApp, Spotify, National Geographic, and YouTube capturing these top spots. Importantly, these brands represent four different media categories – which shows that media brands of many different types can provide great advertising context for their partners.