Ads on Premium Publishers’ Sites Are 3 Times More Effective at Boosting Brand Favorability

ComScore report cites 'halo effect' of high-quality content

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Advertising on the websites of premium publishers, such as The New York Times and Hearst properties, is three times as effective as it is on those of nonpremium publishers at boosting brand favorability and making users more likely to recommend products or services, according to a study by comScore.

The study, released today, examined the online display campaigns of 15 large brands to compare advertising inventory and brand lift between premium publishers and all other publishers. The study included household goods, auto, consumer electronics and telecom brands. The publishers that were part of the study were all part of Digital Content Next, a trade group formerly known as the Online Publishers Association that includes dozens of the best-known publications including The New York Times, ABC, NPR and Condé Nast.

"This outsized mid-funnel performance is of particular significance for the large consumer brands that drive the majority of digital ad spending," wrote Andrew Lipsman, the author of the report. "These brands will tend to have already established high brand awareness and therefore prefer to focus more on influencing how consumers feel about the brand so that they are more likely to purchase that brand when they are in the market to do so."

ComScore said the boost in favorability could partially be a result of better viewability rates on premium websites—50 percent compared with 45 percent for non-DCN publishers. The study found that premium publishers also were better at optimizing their website designs around viewability, which led to users spending more time on their pages and ultimately to see fully rendered ads. DCN publishers also were less likely to "stuff" low-quality ads at the bottom of pages or have ads that weren't viewable at all.

Along with the better viewability, comScore said the ads on premium websites also benefited from a "halo effect" that comes from the quality and subject matter of articles where the ads are seen. While DCN publishers' effectiveness was 67 percent higher overall, 51 percent of that increase came from the halo effect, according to the report.

According to comScore, larger and more well established brands focused less on awareness and more on driving results could also benefit from directing more of their online spending to premium publishers.

"Advertisers are likely to benefit from driving gains across all key brand lift metrics when advertising on premium publisher sites," according to the report. "But they may derive especially strong benefit in advertising on premium sites when they are specifically focused on increasing how consumers feel about their brands."

Here are some more findings from the report:

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.