For digital advertisers, “premium” means more than quality content

Accessing digital advertising opportunities on premium publishers is critical for top brands, but what exactly makes a publisher premium?

In answering this question, it might be easy to conflate “premium” with “popular” and “pretty,” but it isn’t so simple. Most relevant to the question of a publisher’s fit for a given brand is the audience the property attracts and, critically, brands’ ability to execute effective campaigns against that audience.

While there is undoubtedly intrinsic value in elegant aesthetics, beauty of environment, and the general popularity of a digital property, it’s ultimately quality content that builds relationships with audiences, and digital advertising infrastructure that enables custom executions for brands.

Perhaps no website illustrates this better than Drudge Report, a site whose marketing is run by my company, Intermarkets.

Premium is in the guts

To be sure, Drudge Report is no darling of web design pundits with its monochromatic color scheme, throwback font, and text-driven layout. But in our experience, digital advertising buyers are happy about the campaigns they’re able to execute on the site.

Measured not by its looks, but by the value it provides visitors and advertisers alike, Drudge Report is premium indeed. It boasts an impressive ad tech stack that helps marketers effectively reach their target audiences. It has direct integrations to advertiser demand through demand side platforms and agency trading desks. It is a leader at enabling automated direct orders and private marketplace deals, which let advertisers customize campaigns on Drudge Report, while affording them the advantages of automation and data integrations.

Intermarkets has made significant and longstanding investments in the technologies that make those capabilities possible. The site has worked with a premium supply side platform since 2008, created a self-service advertising platform in 2009, provided audience extension using both first- and third-party data since 2010, and used a data management platform since 2012.

With these technologies in place, Drudge Report buyers are able to execute sophisticated and effective advertising programs against the site’s sizable and committed audience. We have access to – and relationships with – more new buyers than ever before. We’ve gained in areas of operational efficiency, and we’re able to offer custom opportunities that still leverage those efficiencies.

Buyers can reserve audiences and buy direct at scale. Buyers can buy in the way they want to buy. All of this leads to healthy growth, and a highly successful automated direct marketplace.

What lies beneath

No, The Drudge Report may not win design awards any time soon. But its ease of use, unique visual signature, familiarity, consistency and simplicity – all skinning a sophisticated advertising platform underneath – are powerful attributes for visitors and advertisers alike.

It’s the reason why Drudge Report is a top traffic referrer to a bevy of top-tier sites, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, Wall Street Journal, and Politico. Media planners, buyers, and strategists want quality audiences, loyalty, and consistency. Aesthetics don’t make a media plan – audiences and execution capabilities do.

In a world where real-time decisioning allows buyers to define their desired inventory and search for differentiated audiences in milliseconds, good looks come second or third to quality of audience and sophistication of advertising execution. To be sure, design can be crucially important, particularly in light of its overlap with functionality and usability. But from our view, combining engaging content with top-notch advertising infrastructure across the array of connected technologies our audiences use, and committing to helping digital advertising buyers understand how to best use their properties as advertising platforms, should be the top priority for premium publishers.

There is a ton of beauty in that.

Requidan HS.RUBIErik Requidan is Vice President of Sales and Programmatic Strategy at Intermarkets, an independent media company based in Washington, D.C. Follow Erik on Twitter @Requidan. Follow Intermarkets on Twitter @Intermarkets.