Who determines what your brand is worth?


Big question but an important one for publishers. Who determines what your brand is worth? As a publisher, you work hard to produce content for your audience. Most of you provide it to your audience free of charge. Advertising is your main revenue source. Google and Facebook are major sources of your traffic. Through exchanges, you have some levers by which to control what prices you get, but overall the market tells you what your inventory is worth. On the traffic side, Google and Facebook routinely update their algorithms and you’re in or your out, you’re up or you’re down.

So do you determine what your brand is worth or is it really these external forces that tell you? What can publishers do to better control our value and therefore our future?

Heady stuff for a Tuesday after Memorial Day, but would love some takers.


Deep, Rob.

Obviously, there is no right or wrong answer to your first question. When you say “what your brand is worth” do you mean strictly in a revenue generated from advertising perspective?

If so, as a publisher, I would say you have some control over what your brand’s inventory is worth. Having responsive web pages and choosing the right type of advertising are definitely major factors. Your site aesthetic, # of ad zones/page and the category that your content competes in are all things you can control that contribute to your brands “worth”.

Wouldn’t you say the end goal is to have all of your inventory directly sold? I know it’s easier said than done but that would be the ultimate testament to your brand’s value. If you can dictate the price of your inventory to brands/advertisers, you would be determining your brand’s worth.

Check out pcper.com, they directly sell almost all of their inventory and are a good example as they can choose who they work with and what is displayed on their site.

The type of advertising is important. Teslarati.com has a ton of native inventory as native has become increasingly popular and profitable!

To address your second question:
I think being responsive to the industries trends and direction are key to controlling the value of your brand long-term. Always be willing to adopt new product/tech. I think some publishers get hesitant to implement new tech on their pages, however, adtech will only continue to innovate! Anything that provides value to your users should be utilized (ex. tech that creates a better user experience). Access to your users are what the companies are paying for after all! Staying true to your users first is what I believe gives you ultimate brand safety in the long run.


Being known to media buyers certainly doesn’t hurt. Typical agency buyers want to block sketchy sites and buy on trusted sites (that also have strong performance against their KPI’s). AE’s love having ‘client-friendly’ sites to feature on reports and quarterly decks.

How to build trust among media buyers as a publisher? I have no idea. But maybe somebody crafty might build a nice audience pool of media buyers that I could promote my content to…


Thanks @Chris_Reilly and @Alexander for weighing in. Alex asked the question if the end goal is to have all your inventory directly sold. I’d love others to dive on that particular question because I know that many publishers are not set up that way. If you’re programmatic only without a sales team, you would say the answer is no. I’m not going to question that model in this discussion but I know as a publisher I want to know my advertisers. I want them to want me and my audience, not just my audience. So as a discussion about worth (tabling the efficiency question for now), I think to Alex’s point winning is knowing my clients and having them want to work with me directly. We’re not going to ever get to a point where we have more brand equity than Google or Facebook, but when I talk with advertisers they don’t just want to be on those platforms. They want to be on the right sites associating themselves with your great content. We just have to make it easy for them.

Which I think touches on Alex’s other point about innovation. Again, we are probably not going to out-innovate Google and Facebook (I take that back - header bidding did out-innovate Google. Boom!) but we can always do something special because we aren’t one size fits all.

I think an underlying reason I ask this question about ‘worth’ is I think it’s a core component of your strategy as a publisher. If you don’t draw any lines, say yes to every deal, you can make money as a publisher but you won’t know for how long. People who publish out of passion should take some responsibility for valuing their work and making sure their worth to their advertisers and their worth to their users is a part of every decision and clear to all parties.