‘Premium’ Has Become an Overused Word When It Comes to Digital Video

'We've bastardized the term'

Matt Spiegel, Pooja Midha and Adam Gerber during Advertising Week 2017.
AWNY2017/REX/Shutterstock

TV is as democratized now as any other industry—and viewers are voting with their remotes. With multiple streaming services, skinny cable bundles and social media platforms to choose from, content creators and viewers have more choices than ever before.

However, not all of that content can be considered “premium,” according to Adam Gerber, svp of investment for North America at Essence, a digital-first media buying agency. He participated in a panel at Advertising Week about the topic on Thursday, along with Pooja Midha, svp of digital ad sales and operations for ABC, and his former colleague, and moderator Matt Spiegel, managing director of MediaLink.

“At the end of the day, ‘premium’ content is what works best for the marketer,” said Gerber. “We’ve bastardized the term ‘premium.’ It can’t all be that.”

Gerber noted that the premium mindset is different per advertiser and often depends on who’s consuming the content.

“Some people get really engaged with unboxing content on YouTube,” he said. “That makes those videos highly relevant for retailers, for example.”

His argument is that quantifying what makes “premium” video is more related to the engagement that content receives from dedicated viewers, not “how many millions [of dollars] a media company spent to produce it.”

"Not all impressions are created equal."
Pooja Midha, ABC

For Midha and the Disney/ABC teams she works with, premium video content directly correlates to great storytelling and curated, high-quality pieces that are delivered to consumers in a “trusted context.” Part of that context is a brand safe environment for their advertising partners. Their content is produced across social media platforms, linear networks and soon Disney’s own streaming SVOD service; their concern, then, is the quality of content and their responsibility to their partners.

“At the root of programmatic technology is the desire to just buy cheap impressions,” Midha said. “We want to ensure our partners are protected and that we’re serving humans, not bots. Not all impressions are created equal.”

Gerber understands that a major mindset change is needed, across both the buy- and sell-side, when it comes to considering exactly what “premium” content is.

“Billions of dollars have been traded in the legacy television space for decades,” Gerber said. “It’s a fallacy, at this point, that smaller screens can’t impact viewers as much. If anything, mobile platforms matter for their ability to collect data and offer enhanced interactivity.”

To decide what is truly “premium,” marketers should consider the viewers and consumers of that content. Even if the video is considered short-form, that doesn’t mean it’s any less “premium” than the episodic series produced for platforms like Hulu or Facebook.

In fact, Gerber warned video publishers across the board of the rise of the non-ad-supported streaming services, like Netflix, HBO Go or Amazon. Those programs, he said, are being consumed at a higher rate and without ads.

“Even though we’re seeing a tremendous amount of video being produced,” he said, “we could have a big problem.”

However, not all is lost. Midha added that producers are “making a big swing back to finding broad reach with high-quality video.”

“Premium video creation is a vibrant place and continues to thrive,” she said.