Defining ‘premium’: Picnic’s Matthew Goldhill on a new tool to objectively measure publisher reputation

Member Content

Picnic CEO and Founder Matthew Goldhill explains how the company’s new Domain Reputation Scoring tool helps advertisers assess the true reputability of publisher sites.

So we’re talking about Domain Reputation Scoring – what exactly is that?
 It’s an Inventory Score for domain reputation, scored from 0 (poor) to 100 (good).

Why is it needed?
Across the industry, the term ‘premium publisher’ has been thrown around like a frisbee for years. But rarely have we actually stopped to ask how we define or measure premium, other than by making a very subjective judgement. To address this issue, Picnic has developed a meaningful new way to measure a publisher’s reputation objectively, in a way that goes beyond a simple qualitative human judgement.

So how do you measure it?

Publisher sites are measured on three criteria. The first is domain authority. We identify both the quantity and quality of backlinks to a site – in other words, all instances of other sites linking to the publisher’s site. As an example, lots of sources link to Wikipedia, so Wikipedia has a high domain authority score. This process is similar to how Google ranks a website’s search engine ranking. Also taken into consideration is the average domain authority of the backlink sources; a site with lots of backlinks from credible sources, such as .gov, .edu, will achieve a higher authority score.

The second criterion is content quality. Here, we use language analysis to help us to determine the quality of the content on a site, taking into account factors such as political leaning and the sophistication of the language used. 

The third criterion used to measure a domain’s reputation is clickbait. Here, we use machine learning models trained on thousands of headlines to determine what percentage of a domain’s articles are clickbait.

Who benefits from using the Domain Reputation Scoring tool?

It will benefit any brands or advertisers currently delivering across our PIQ (Picnic Inventory Quality) site list – those that care about quality and brand safety and want their ads to be seen in quality, brand-safe environments. 

At the same time – domain reputation scoring will reward publishers sharing high quality, reliable content, as we will naturally push more ad spend towards their sites versus those who score lower. 

There’s a big push towards sustainability in advertising and reducing ad wastage – does this have any part to play in that?

Yes, the two things are intrinsically linked. Domain reputation is just one score from our wider PIQ (Picnic Inventory Quality) product, which is an inventory intelligence tool that uses media quality signals to assess a web page’s suitability for effective ad delivery. 

PIQ enables advertisers to look beyond top-line performance metrics to more considered page quality measurements, such as page load speed; ad density; carbon emissions; and placement level attention. PIQ’s granular focus on page quality empowers advertisers to deliver their creatives with the best-possible user experience. This, in turn, drives greater attention opportunity for brands; initial tests have shown 88% higher media attention for PIQ pages vs non-PIQ pages. 

From a sustainability perspective, one of the core use cases for PIQ is waste reduction. By preventing the delivery of ads across sites with poor user experience (such as ad-dense made-for-advertising domains) PIQ reduces ineffective advertising and unnecessary carbon emissions. In addition, we filter our marketplace for low carbon-emitting pages, using an emission threshold that’s 20% lower than the Scope3 benchmark.