By Matt Murphy, VP Product and Digital Strategy, Gamut, via MediaPost
The growth of the digital landscape has fueled a contentious debate over what exactly premium inventory is. Programmatic buyers can use data targeting and inventory quality signals to sniff out a bot or determine viewability. To some, this means premium; to others, premium depends simply on audience size. However, both of these perspectives miss the target when it comes to defining truly premium inventory: content.
Content remains the most important driver of premium inventory, outshining anything ad tech can invent to “pretty up” long-tail inventory. Targeting, quality signals, and eyeballs all add compelling value to the price of an impression, but they remain obsolete when the content surrounding the impression is sub-par. If, as an advertiser, I’m able to target a consumer profile, ensure viewability, and gain exposure to a vast audience through a banner ad on a Web page full of links to outside content, how “premium” can that placement really be?
What surrounds an advertisement is arguably as important as the advertisement itself. Content creates the environment, which ultimately drives the value of inventory, and high-quality inventory is surrounded by high-quality content. This is the case for several reasons:
Premium content is a scarce commodity
With the proliferation of Web sites, one might surmise that quality sites are a dime a dozen. But true, high-end, premium content remains scarce across the digital landscape. Web sites that create their own content and place a strong emphasis on journalistic standards tend to produce higher quality reads. While the number of these sites has certainly increased over the years, the actual growth is minute compared to the explosion of the long tail.
Premium content provides a better user experience.
Consumers linger on sites that provide an enjoyable experience, and premium content does just that. As a reader, my experience on The New York Times’ site will be vastly different from my experience on an at-home blogger’s site. When the user experience is heightened, the environment also is heightened. On a site with quality content, users tend to spend more time per page, leading to greater levels of engagement. This is another critical factor of premium inventory: it’s a channel to a fully engaged user, providing an optimal time for ad placement.
Premium content attracts a more engaged audience.
Lastly, premium content attracts a more-engaged audience. Page engagement rates continually prove higher on sites with better content. In an internal review of the digital landscape, we found that user engagement with content increased as much as 76% on premium sites when compared to the internet as a whole. That’s a sizable increase in engagement — and more engagement on a site means more interaction with an ad’s creative. The importance of quality content should not be overlooked by the buy side or the sell side of the advertising marketplace. It is in the best interest of both parties to value high standards of content creation: for publishers, it provides a channel for premium revenue streams, and for advertisers, it is an opportunity to maximize the impact of a media buy. It is the crown jewel of the advertising market, and it should be polished to shine as such.