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.