It has always been said that content is king. Hard to argue with the truth of that statement, but we should add something to it: when it comes to content, premium media is gold!
High-quality premium media — and the publishers that deliver it — drives engagement and represents the greatest opportunities to connect with consumers. When audiences are engaged with premium media, they are thinking — they’re in a seriously engaged mode, and digital ads have been shown to be 67% more effective when seen on premium sites.
So, what does premium media mean, and what kind of commitment does it demand? In short, how do we get ourselves on the pathway to setting a gold standard based on premium media, industrywide.
Premium Media is Not Social Media (and You Won’t Find It in Search)
Mobile marketing needs to look deeper into the sites that account for consumers’ attention — how many of these media publishers are delivering compelling, smart, and brand-safe content and how many of them are actually serving their audiences something else?
The answer is, many of them are simply social platforms where low-quality media is sprinkled-in around user-generated content. This is often scary stuff — feeds populated by trolls and fake news and links to the kind of negative content we read about. Or, these are sites where consumers really just focus on their social timelines while ignoring the substandard creative that streams alongside their main reason for being there — updates from friends and family. Take Facebook on any given day. Think of these media environments as the People magazines of the digital world.
Premium media is not search, either. Even though search clearly revolves around a more brand-positive experience than most of what social has to offer — someone searched for something, so they probably want or need it — when it comes to deeper relationships with a brand, search still doesn’t deliver the value that high-quality media offers. Search is surface and it’s not content in the way that premium publishers create rich material for consumers.
Scale is another problem. Publishers, if you’re serious about the quality of your media, then don’t give it to the exchanges that feed on scale over quality. Don’t devalue your content by opening the door to the remnants on which programmatic depends. A race that finishes at the line of programmatic is a race to the bottom of the barrel.
Demanding Premium Media as an Industry
This call for premium matters because we love media. High-quality premium content is awesome and we love it. But it’s hard work and it takes a premium-level commitment. It means selling inventory yourself. And, if you can’t sell it in a first-party fashion, then you should let it die on the vine. You never risk the brand-safety perils to which other players turn a blind eye. You never throw an ad at consumers in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Media companies should earn their titles and secure their places in this ecosystem. There are media companies and then there are the media companies that deserve brands’ business — the ones that represent a positive baseline, the kind of quality that has stood for something important throughout the history of publishing. High-quality premium publishers and advertisers know what high-quality environments look like. Consumers know it, too.
Direct publisher partnerships — handpicked direct relationships — these are the engagements that matter. Work directly. Work one-to-one. Value quality over quantity; value it over a fleeting fascination with social, search, and the false promises that come with scale. This is the way to the gold standard we’re after.
Tom Kenney is the CEO of Verve. Since founding Verve in 2005, he has focused on the power of location intelligence and mobile to provide advertisers with inventive solutions to amplify their mobile marketing strategies.