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  • Greg Cattelain


Updated: Jun 5, 2022

Recently, Think Premium Digital released Part 1 of a research study measuring the effectiveness of premium environments in delivering brand metrics such as Recognition, Prompted Recall and Unprompted Recall.

Part 1 focuses on Display and Short video formats, while Part 2, to be released later this year, will look at video as a whole (short form and long form).

Arguably, “Premium Environments” deliver a superior outcome for brands when compared to “run of internet” or social media. But, before jumping into the results and the main take outs, let’s look at the study methodology itself.

The study methodology

  • The research was conducted by Mediascience – a credible and reputable research company specialising in media research

  • 5,350 respondents

  • 252 websites included in the pool of websites

  • All the respondents opted-in to have each of their experiences tracked for the length of the study

  • All respondents were exposed to the exact same type of ads and formats but had individualised experiences

So, the methodology looks legitimate or, from what we can tell, on a par with other types of studies. And, with a sample size of 5,350 respondents, the results are certainly statistically reliable.

It is also worth pointing out that until today there was no similar study in Australia measuring the impact of Premium Environments on campaign results.

The results at a glance

  • Premium Digital Environments deliver 2.4 times the unprompted recall than run of internet

  • For Display: Premium Environments deliver 3.5 times better unprompted recall than run of internet

  • For short form Video: Recognition is 83% better in Premium Environments and 1.8 times more effective as driving unprompted recall than Facebook video

The debatable part

Defining what is a Premium Environment, and what is not, is tricky. Subjectivity plays a big part in what each of us defines as premium. In this research, “Premium” was defined by a selection of publishers: 7 West, Nine, ViacomCBS, NewsCorp and Foxtel Media. In other words, big Australian players who produce mainly Australian content and News – curated and professionally produced.

The creative execution was the same across all platforms, meaning – for social media for instance – creative was not fit for platforms. This can also be a bone of contention when looking at the study, as some people would argue that to get the best from a Social media platform, you need to adapt the ad to align with best practice on the platform.

So, where do we go from here?

I would say, don’t let the definition of premium distract you. The point is not so much about what each of us considers “premium”, or not, but rather that these environments are very effective at delivering marketing outcomes. To build your brands over time, large scale environments with professional curated content are the environments that your brands should be in. They should be part of your mix if you want to enjoy the long-term benefits of premium environments.

In the quest of getting the “right audience at the right time”, we have often paid less attention to the environment in which the ads were displayed, leaving a critical component out of the equation as this research study is trying to demonstrate. From my experience, in the last 5 years, we’ve been focused on “finding the audience”. At the same time, platforms like Facebook and Google were offering fantastic addressability coupled with a low-cost inventory. This quest has led us to forgetting that 66% of online time is spent on the open web and, when it comes to the open web, not all environments are equal in driving business outcomes.

Having ways to quantify the contribution of environments is a fantastic additional piece for planning and activation. At the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, a lot of advertisers wanted to “stay away from news” to avoid potential brand unsuitability. We’ve recommended most of our clients to keep investing in premium environments and use technology to avoid content deemed risky for their brands. The advertisers who adopted this approach had overall better campaign performance.

It’s the perfect time to reassess brand presence in digital environments. With the deprecation of cookies, content in context will play a greater role so developing a roadmap and planning principles to have a brand presence in “Premium Digital” will be more and more critical to deliver brand building over time.

Context might not be the only reason why premium environments are very effective. There is certainly something to say about the high time in view, the attention and the brand equity exchange. For example, Vogue will always be a better place to advertise a perfume and fashion accessories than any other website. This is also something to consider when looking at your media activation.

In summary

Overall, it’s not an “either or” equation – it’s an “and”. A combination of the right environments needs to be considered to build brand. This includes quality of the content, the scale of the environment, the publisher’s brand and the budget you have for your campaign. Finding the right mix is a balancing act where premium publishers should not be overlooked just because of price.

I’m curious to see what Part 2 of the research will show us and whether or not it can demonstrate that BVOD is an environment yielding more benefit for brands than any other video environment. It will really help understand to what extent Australian content (which makes up the majority of BVOD) has an impact on attention and brand metrics of Australian audiences.

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