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Digital Advertising is not Created Equal

USA TODAY NETWORK provides an engaged audience, premium content and proven performance. Posted on Friday, March 24 in Breaking Through the Clutter.

Digital Advertising is not Created Equal

In today’s digital media environment, transparency and accurate reporting are a necessity. You need to know whether or not the return on your marketing investment is favorable. Which means, you want both reporting on digital ad performance (click-thru rate and ideally conversion metrics), as well as validation that your digital ads are viewed by real consumers.

And let’s face it—not all digital advertising is created equal.

“Premium Sites Deliver Premium Performance”

ComScore released a study last year that examined the performance of digital advertising across a spectrum of digital marketing campaigns from major brands. comScore identified what they called a halo effect offered by premium content websites, leading to better digital ad performance across a variety of scores.

The halo effect provides drivers for better digital ad engagement and showed a positive impact on mid-funnel brand metrics like favorability and consideration factors. In fact, these campaigns on premium content sites were three times more effective in those measures, and provided 67% better brand lift. [1]

Or, as comScore put it, “Premium sites deliver premium performance.”

How Much Better is Better?

Gannett’s USA TODAY NETWORK local sites are Digital Content Next member sites, which was the qualification common to the premium content sites in the comScore study [2]. Premium sites like provide an engaged audience, premium content, and proven digital ad performance.

But how much better is better when it comes to digital advertising?

Digital Advertising is not Created Equal

We sought out an answer to that by analyzing actual campaign results across our network of over 100 local news sites. In 2016, USA TODAY NETWORK local sites managed more than 82,500 digital advertising campaigns and saw higher than average performance across a variety of measures:

  • 2.4X higher local interaction for standard display ads
  • 42% higher viewability for mobile ads
  • 30% higher view rate for high impact ads

Local site digital ad campaigns also performed better on click-thru rate, with standard display ads averaging .18% click-thru rate compared to .10% for Google Benchmark average.

High impact digital ads on USA TODAY NETWORK local sites rated even higher, with up to 4x higher click-thru rate than industry average. This includes ad units like Hero Flip, Interactive Takeover and Transitional, as well as digital video ads like Video Takeover, Gravity, and Pushdown. [3]

Why Do We Perform Better?

We provided a safe environment for local brands in three key areas.

  1. Local consumers trust us and our platforms because we provide high-quality journalism and information about the things that matter in their local community.
  2. The user experience is less cluttered compared to many other websites. Instead of being bombarded by multiple ads at one glance, users on our sites typically see only one ad at a time in their screen view.
  3. USA TODAY NETWORK sites are trusted by brands because we provide third-party verification and reporting on ad placements and performance (MOAT and IAS).

We Can Help

We know that not all digital advertising is created equal, and we leverage our experience to deliver premium performance. Our network of over 100 local news sites provides local digital advertising and marketing expertise to companies of all sizes across a large variety of industries.

We have access to data from thousands of digital advertising campaigns and leverage those insights and best practices to inform customized marketing solutions to improve your marketing ROI. Contact us today to learn more.


1. “The Halo Effect: How Advertising on Premium Publishers Drives Higher Ad Effectiveness,” comScore, July 2016

2. “About DCN,” DCN

3. USA TODAY NETWORK Local 2016 Digital Campaigns. DFP, 2016 Google Display Benchmarks

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