How do you define 'premium' in today's digital landscape?

Venessa Hunt
By Venessa Hunt | 21 July 2021
Venessa Hunt

Research shows premium environments make for more effective campaigns. But in the current digital landscape, how do you define 'premium' and why does it make a difference? Venessa Hunt explains.

Once upon a time, digital media was the new kid on the block. A shiny new toy. A novelty. But that time has long passed and today, pretty much everything has a digital element to it. From out-of-home billboards to TV – all growth areas lead to digital.

But in a world where everything is digital, how do you sort the good from the bad? What does it take for a digital environment to be deemed ‘premium’?

The way I see it, there are four pieces to the puzzle.

1. Being supported by premium, professionally produced content

For advertising environments to be deemed premium, they need to feature premium, professionally produced content. And several ingredients go into making true premium content. Quality is one but more than that, premium content engages, inspires and defines Australian culture. This content aligns with the moments that matter to Australians and has them gathering around the water cooler, real or virtual. From creating must-see content such as your favourite reality or drama programming to covering news and sport, premium content sits at the heart of Australian culture.

Professionally produced content also creates premium context. With recent and ongoing changes to privacy and tracking, the way we target audiences is changing. Contextual relevancy provides an environment for your brand to reach the right customer, at the right time in the right frame of mind. In fact, a recent study by Integral Ad Science found that 80% of consumers say ads related to the content they're viewing impacts their perception of the brand.

With premium digital content spanning a range of genres including entertainment, lifestyle, finance, automotive and sport, there are contextually relevant environments for advertisers in a host of different categories. 

2. Brands that people know and trust

History, and research, shows that when brands work together, they lend and borrow each other’s core attributes. Think of iconic collaborations such as Tim Tam x Zumbo, BMW x Louis Vuitton, Go-Pro x Red Bull. What makes these partnerships successful is positioning, audience and tone. These are all relevant factors to consider as part of your media buying strategy as brand transference also occurs between publications and the advertising placed within them.

Trusted, stable brands that have stood the test of time provide a positive halo effect for advertisers. And consumers trust premium media brands, demonstrated by their willingness to subscribe and log in to see the content these publications offer. This clear value exchange, in turn, supports the first-party data opportunity for brands looking to advertise within these publications.

3. Brand safety

Sure, there’s some great user-generated content (UGC) out there but platforms that rely on unmonitored UGC are not without their risks. There are too many stories of live-streamed events that never should have been live-streamed or pieces of content uploaded without going through a series of checks and balances.

It’s risky, right? And the only way to mitigate the risk is to choose digital environments where the content adheres to standards and regulation.

In 2020, reports of illegal and harmful content in digital environments reached a new peak. And earlier this year, the Australian eSafety Commissioner revealed that reports were up 53% for the first quarter of 2021.

No brand should be seen sitting alongside hate speech, violence, pornography, bullying, drugs, gambling or illegal content. A 2019 survey from the Trustworthy Accountability Group and Brand Safety Institute found that 80% of consumers would be deterred from purchasing a product that advertised near this stuff.

Add to that Magna’s The Brand Safety Effect study which found ads appearing near negative content result in a 2.8 times reduction in intent to associate with these brands and we can all agree, that’s something to be avoided.

But more to the point, if this is the sort of company your advertising is keeping, it’s probably helping to fund serious damage to Australians of all ages but, most alarmingly, kids. Surely that’s not where you want your ad budget to be going and it certainly doesn’t sound very premium, does it?

4. Meaningful scale

Even if you have the top three covered, for an advertising environment to be meaningful to advertisers, you need to have some form of scale. The most beautiful, brand-safe site in the world is not relevant to advertisers if only four people visit it.

In his book How Brands Grow, marketing guru Byron Sharpe says brands need to target broadly to attract new customers as growth won’t come from the customers you already have buying more of your product. So, if you’re in the business of growing your brand, you need scale.

Bear in mind, not all so-called ‘scale’ is equal. When it comes to getting the most exposure for your ad dollars, it’s tempting to be wowed by big global audience numbers but not all jumbo-sized audiences are what they seem on the surface. Do your homework and ensure, whatever the platform, people are actually seeing your ad, in its entirety and for enough time for it to make an impact.

Together, these four things create a premium digital environment which produces a proven halo for marketing effectiveness.

Venessa Hunt is the General Manager of ThinkPremiumDigital.

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