Almost every discussion about programmatic advertising at some point, revolves around defining what is meant by “premium inventory”. Despite its pervasiveness amongst the digital advertising community, there is little consensus on what premium inventory means to brands and advertisers. What a publisher may deem as premium may not be a brand’s definition. The idea of premium inventory is highly complex and fraught with a variety of qualifiers. Even though “premium” is a highly subjective label for describing ad inventory, especially within digital, there is a degree to which inventory can be thought of as fundamentally valuable to both the advertiser and the publisher. What is deemed as valuable involves unpacking and quantifying some basic criteria to which a publisher and advertiser can agree upon.
To analyze this complex issue of premium, one could start with the stance from the publisher side. Generally, premium inventory is advertising space on a website or app that publishers deem “higher-quality”, and in turn attempt to sell at a higher price to advertisers. Largely, publishers focus on finding the balance between maximizing revenue and creating valuable content that attracts a devoted audience. What a publisher deems as higher quality is the tricky part in this equation. To understand premium a bit better, there are a variety of features that publishers may consider when defining their inventory. These features could include but are not limited to:
These characteristics can all contribute to a publisher’s attractiveness to which advertisers deem a publisher’s inventory as premium. Premium inventory cannot be thought of as an absolute term, and more of an evolving framework as the programmatic landscape matures. It’s imperative that publishers, to the best of their abilities, provide the tools for advertisers to reach their intended audience as efficiently and effectively as possible. However, if publishers continue to provide the necessary tools and features, they should in theory, be able to request that advertiser’s pay a premium for that audience as the investment has been made to create it. It is then up to the advertiser to take responsibility of their campaign goals and become educated on what the value of a publisher’s inventory is when compared to the rest of the market and other programmatic technologies.
While the above highlights some of the complexity of what is meant by premium inventory from a publisher’s view, it gets even murkier when the objectives of advertisers are ever changing. Typically, these objectives tend to be context or performance related. While context may not be of the highest importance to every advertiser, for many it is a vital component for digital advertising campaigns. Having a brand’s ad appear alongside suitable content is extremely important for reaching a relevant audience, and for some may be the sole measurement of what makes inventory premium. Other advertisers may care more about reach, brand lift, or click-through rate. In any case, advertisers want a connection between the subject matter of the ad placement and the product or service being advertised. Advertisers must understand that reaching that audience has its costs. While programmatic has made purchasing media more efficient and in some cases more cost effective, it has effectively diminished the value of premium inventory as often this inventory can be purchase through RTB or ad exchanges. Buying on the “open market” can be risky, where fraud is prevalent, further reducing the effectiveness of publisher inventory, and driving up the costs of inventory without the advertiser realizing in many cases. What all this means is that an advertiser must truly understand what their advertising objectives are and weigh the cost of securing inventory with the most benefits that will achieve their business results.
At JUICE Mobile, we have a solution that helps to bridge the gap for advertisers and publishers when it comes to offering and accessing premium inventory. Nectar, our programmatic direct solution, was created to allow advertisers to buy premium mobile inventory today and in the future. We flight directly to publishers that have been vetted by JUICE and gives transparency to exactly where campaigns are being run. The publishers partners available within Nectar offer advertisers brand safe content, high impact ad units and unique audience targeting. Publishers that are a part of Nectar are provided with an additional revenue stream outside of their direct sales and SSP efforts. We expose publishers to demand from premium advertisers that they can choose to accept or decline. Nectar’s patented reverse auction model powers a premium guaranteed marketplace, that offers transparent, brand safe, price controlled inventory for advertisers, and additional demand for publishers. A combination that showcases how effective and simple purchasing or offering premium inventory can be.
Premium inventory clearly has its challenges. Publishers must better communicate the value of its inventory to the market and advertisers must be willing to pay a premium to reach those premium audiences. What makes sense for the publisher must align closer with the objectives of an advertiser. Without advertisers realizing the costs involved in reaching a premium audience, publishers will struggle to produce quality content and in turn lose that audience for advertisers to target. As publishers become more sophisticated with targeting and data, the mutual value of buying premium inventory becomes more apparent for advertisers.3