Genetic improvement programs around the world rely on the collection of accurate phenotypic data. These phenotypes have an inherent value that can be estimated as the contribution of an additional record to genetic gain. Here, the contribution of phenotypes to genetic gain was calculated using traditional progeny testing (PT) and 2 genomic selection (GS) strategies that, for simplicity, included either males or females in the reference population. A procedure to estimate the theoretical economic contribution of a phenotype to a breeding program is described for both GS and PT breeding programs through the increment in genetic gain per unit of increase in estimated breeding value reliability obtained when an additional phenotypic record is added. The main factors affecting the value of a phenotype were the economic value of the trait, the number of phenotypic records already available for the trait, and its heritability. Furthermore, the value of a phenotype was affected by several other factors, including the cost of establishing the breeding program and the cost of phenotyping and genotyping. The cost of achieving a reliability of 0.60 was assessed for different reference populations for GS. Genomic reference populations of more sires with small progeny group sizes (e.g., 20 equivalent daughters) had a lower cost than those reference populations with either large progeny group sizes for fewer genotyped sires, or female reference populations, unless the heritability was large and the cost of phenotyping exceeded a few hundred dollars; then, female reference populations were preferable from an economic perspective.