Novelty is often prioritized and detected automatically. It attracts attention- eliciting the orienting response. However, novelty is not a unitary concept, and the extent to which the orienting response is elicited depends on several factors. In the present study we investigated how stimulus novelty, deviance from the context, and complexity of the stimulus context contribute to the anterior N2 and novelty P3 event-related potential components, using the visual novelty oddball paradigm. In the first experiment the novelty P3 was drastically reduced when the stimulus context was complex compared with simple, and in a second experiment when novels were frequent rather than deviant. No such effect was found for the anterior N2, suggesting it is a function of stimulus characteristics, not deviance. In contrast, the novelty P3 depended on deviance and contextual complexity.