What The Heck Is 'Premium' Content?

It’s been a bone of content for some time—the word “premium” as it relates to “content” and how “premium” is brandished by just about every single publisher and other players in ad tech land. I would have said “ecosystem”. Oops, I just did. Now there’s a word that’s also been beaten to death.

If all publishers offer “premium” content and all marketers want to advertise against “premium” content, does that make all content “premium”? No, of course not. Everyone has a different definition of “premium.”

In some circles, “premium” suggests that some advertising inventory is higher quality (larger, more interactive ad units, and higher CPMs on those units) and not all audiences are the same. Readers of the New York Times are different from readers of Bleacher Report. Or, maybe not.  My elementary sense is that “premium” publishers charge higher CPMs on larger and more innovative ad units and their brand cachet, advertisers, and readers fit a certain demographic, if not psychographic profile. “Premium” also connotes “trust” and “quality” in the advertising/ad tech/publishing business—and now those two words are also loaded.

There’s no real agreed-upon definition of  “premium”.  By some standards, “premium” content is digital content that’s accessed for a fee; it’s not free.

In his recent post “The Premium Content Comeback; Is Facebook Still Safe For Content Marketers?,” Polar Founder and CEO Kunal Gupta declares “premium is in fashion and gaining popularity”. Gupta uses Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard’s oft-cited comments from late January about poor advertising experiences, a lack of transparency throughout digital media, and not trusting anyone as jumping off points.

Gupta’s main point is that after a decade of chasing “audience with no concern for where that audience came from, its legitimacy, the industry has acknowledged there is value in premium content again.” He argues that there’s also a new appreciation for context and audience targeting and takes Facebook to task for cluttering up news feeds and for enabling fake news. Marketers, he argues, are “funding fake news” and attempting to put pressure on Facebook, Google, and others to enact measures that will ferret it out.

Gupta argues that given the contentious issues around fake news, ad fraud, lack of transparency, and eroding trust vis-à-vis the entire supply chain but in particular, ad networks and exchanges, that publishers of “premium” content may be on more solid footing. Why? Because “premium publishers continue to provide premium content, coupled with legitimate, quality audiences.” While I don’t doubt that, it’s a murky argument since we have no common standard as to what “premium” means (unless we defer to Interactive Advertising Bureau standards which isn’t a bad idea).

“Premium content.” “Premium audiences." “Quality audiences.” “Premium publishers.” By what standard? And if everyone’s playing in the “premium” pond, what or who’s left?

“Premium”? I’ll do my best to avoid it.

3 comments about "What The Heck Is 'Premium' Content?".
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  1. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, March 8, 2017 at 9:58 a.m.

    Premium! It's a buzzword that means nothing and is used all the time in advertising! When everything is premium, nothing is! But what else is new!? 

  2. Tobi Elkin from MediaPost, March 8, 2017 at 10:27 a.m.

    Yes, that's one of my points.

  3. charles bachrach from BCCLTD, March 8, 2017 at 1:08 p.m.

    Johathan is correct.  And to make matters even worse the 12 year old who program the networks and their parent companies like to repeat the same show a number of times every night...guess that saves money!!!  It will "bite them in the ass soon"  Stay tuned!

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