How Receptivity is ethically leading the way in new ad targeting

The company’s model of tapping real-time data to reach mobile users (even IOS) without cookies is reaping rewards

Ad targeting technology has been effective in the past but has yet to evolve to reflect the reality of mobile web users. Alternatives such as third-party cookies are too invasive and are being phased out as they strongly track a user’s actions.

Browsers like Google Chrome are taking steps to restrict their use and laws are taking shape to eradicate them from a marketer’s arsenal of targeting options. According to Statista, 88.7% of mobile users accessed the internet via a mobile device in 2021, a number that is projected to grow to 97.1% in 2026. With mobile penetration on the rise, the advertising industry has a shared new responsibility to find ways to access anonymized data and that which is sourced ethically. The line between effective ad tracking and privacy infringement is thin and easily crossed.

CONTXTFUL is a Montreal-based AI technology start-up. Their flagship product, Receptivity, helps media companies leverage non-private, sensor-based data from mobile devices to obtain meaningful advertising results while respecting user privacy. CONTXTFUL goes beyond traditional metrics to provide human context.

Receptivity isn’t a traditional metric built on historical data. Instead, it focuses on real-time data gathered from a user’s phone sensors like the accelerometer and gyroscope(which determine motion and velocity). The data is used to analyze a user’s physical behavior in order to evaluate their attention level, allowing marketers to show ads when audiences are most attentive.

But what about iOS users?

With the launch of iOS 14.5, apps must now ask permission to track iPhone users. While some iOS data is still available, increasingly a user’s answer to the iOS mandated “can I track you” is ‘” no, thank you”. Which points to the fact that iOS users don’t want to be tracked, and Receptivity respects that choice.

To get around this hurdle, the Receptivity AI scoured through privileged implementation, which accessed hundreds of hours of device usage on iOS. Through this process, the findings that iOS users are, fundamentally, humans, and don’t significantly differ from Android users in their browsing habits were uncovered.

 It's just different phone brands; we're all human.

It’s just different phone brands; we’re all human.


Receptivity takes the Receptive population distribution based on all the available sensor data from an Android user base. The company’s technology confirmed (in their user base) that iOS users follow the same attention distribution, so they can predict how likely each iOS user is to be receptive, or not. Using this model, the group behavior of iOS users is extrapolated, with no tracking insight.

Privacy by design is more than a trend.

Creating a metric with user privacy in mind is core to the brand. Receptivity is not an answer to the phase-out of 3rd party cookies. Its main goal is to provide the best data possible to advertisers in a way that users are comfortable with.

Privacy by design shouldn't be a trend; it's an ad tech duty.

Privacy by design shouldn’t be a trend; it’s an ad tech duty.


The answer is not tracking users across website visits. Or about buying impressions to meet impression targets since not all impressions are equal. The impressions generated by real attentive humans are the ones that are of value.

Data shows us historical patterns so instead of focusing on a user’s past actions Receptivity focuses on their current behaviors and qualifies if a user is attentive at that moment not who the user is.

Most recently, a large insurer company and Quebecor partnered to put the new and improved Receptivity to the test. For 30 days they did A/B testing on two equally independent audience groups: A Control Group and a Test Group. The objective was to validate that targeting mobile users who are identified as being receptive to their phones increases the probability of getting insurance quotes filled out. During the course of that time, the test group saw a 144% increase in conversion rate and a decrease of the cost-per-acquisition by -52%. 


To find out more about how brands are leveraging Receptivity’s technology to ethically target consumers, contact or download our whitepaper to get started.