A New Era: Re-Defining Premium Ad Inventory

Premium inventory. What exactly does that mean? We think we all know: it’s that custom ad placement on ESPN.com, or the full-page takeover on NYTimes.com.

Some of us may think a gaming site like IGN is premium; others may disagree. Overall, the basic premise is that premium inventory is the media found on a well-known and well-respected publisher.

Marketing_land_magnetic inventory

Clean, Well-Lit Inventory

Personally, I prefer “clean, well-lit” inventory as an expression of what’s good rather than “premium.” The popularity of sites can wax and wane so rapidly that it’s impossible to keep up with the top 20 in every vertical – let alone the subsequent 50 or 100.

And, what if you are buying ads on an exchange? The reason we do that is so we can target individuals no matter what content they are looking at.

If you see that customer who’s about to convert and he’s on a safe site that has good media placements, isn’t that “premium”? It certainly seems a shame to call that sort of inventory “remnant” or “unsold” or even worse, “cheap.”

Inventory That Lifts Brand Metrics & ROI

Kellogg recently reported that more than half of their media now runs through programmatic buying with an increased focus on private exchanges. For Kellogg’s, premium inventory is simply defined as “inventory that lifts brand metrics and ROI.” Their representative even went on to share that “ironically, that could be the cheapest CPMs out there.”

We spoke with a couple of agency executives, and they shared their thoughts on how they define “premium” inventory.

Traditionalization Of Digital

According to Rob Griffin, EVP, Product Development at Havas, “Everyone wants to talk about the digitization of all media, but no one discusses the traditionalization of digital.”

Griffin adds that this is an important distinction when you look at the future of programmatic and media buying in general. Griffin’s perspective sheds light on the fact that all media will be programmatically bought, but that not all media will have an algorithm applied to it.

Griffin explains that premium inventory will still remain sold via upfronts, where the price is set with the publisher. However, the trading desks will handle the executions. The non-guaranteed media (RTB) will represent a digital spot buy, and then you have your performance agencies that represent a digital version of a DRTV shop.

In closing, Griffin states, “in this traditionalized model for digital, premium is defined advertiser-by-advertiser and publisher-by-publisher, and then purchased accordingly.”

Limited Inventory In Short Supply

Joel Nierman, Marketing and Media Director at Critical Mass takes a slightly different approach to defining “premium.”

“In digital, premium inventory denotes severely limited supply; limited in such small quantities as to actually drive the price up, given the size of the digital ad opportunity.

With that definition, this leads digital premium to be ads that are supply-limited in at least one of the four following ways: 1) context, 2) user groups, 3) performance, 4) ad format.

The common bond here is limited supply – there are limited opportunities to be next to the best content, to reach truly high ROI user groups and tightly-focused groups, and limited opportunities for immersive, innovative creative executions.”

However, just like Griffin, Nierman goes back to the notion that advertisers define value, stating, “Advertisers are willing to pay more for something that performs well over the normal performance band.”

Inventory Defined By Value

It seems like the overall takeaway here is that inventory is defined by its value and comes down to what an advertiser is prepared to pay. Data has emerged as the key contributor to the change in buying and inventory channels.

The days where there is a clear-cut line between premium and remnant inventory sources is gone. Simply put, it’s subjective and means different things to different people.

To some advertisers, premium can still be defined as the major publishers with direct sales channels; while on the flip side, some exchange-based inventory can be defined as premium by marketers’ standards. Let’s delete the pejorative “premium” and “remnant” and go with “clean, well-lit.” If it isn’t clean and well-lit, we don’t want to buy it.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Display Advertising | Display Advertising | Display Advertising Column


About The Author: is chief executive officer at search retargeting leader Magnetic charged with driving overall company expansion and building out Magnetic’s search retargeting infrastructure.

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