Yes, The CPM Is Holding Back Online Advertising
from the time-to-get-rid-of-it dept
Last week, Shelby Bonnie, former CEO of CNET wrote a great guest piece for TechCrunch, where he suggested killing off CPM as a measurement for online advertising. I’d go even further, and suggest that the obsession with CPM has seriously harmed online advertising. The key point is the one that Bonnie makes first: if you pay for impressions, you create incentives to get impressions. But impressions, by themselves, are not particularly useful, especially when everyone making those impressions ignores the advertisement itself.
We’ve experienced this first hand. While we do offer some CPM-based advertising on the site, we’ve made it clear that such display advertising is a waste for most companies. Our audience doesn’t pay much attention to it at all. Ad blindness is the rule. Instead, we always suggest to companies who approach us about advertising that they would get a much better and much more valuable bang for their buck by engaging our community via the Insight Community. Doing so isn’t strictly “advertising,” but it actually gets the attention and engagement of the smart folks who hang around here. And, on top of that, beyond just getting people to see your brand, the company actually gets something of value back — insightful analysis from our community.
And yet… some of the people we speak to can’t even comprehend how getting people to engage is smarter than just pushing annoying banner ads that will get ignored. You can always tell when you’re dealing with that sort of person when they start focusing on how to calculate the CPM value of an Insight Community case. They ask how many impressions it will get. These are people who would much rather one million people totally ignore their ad, though it gets loaded in the background somewhere, than have a committed group of targeted individuals actually engaging with the brand. It makes no sense at all, but it’s the type of conclusion people come to when they focus so much on CPM. When the CPM rules all, then all you get are impressions — and there are all sorts of games sites can (and often do) use to boost impressions with totally worthless traffic.
Hopefully advertisers really are waking up to the pointlessness of CPM as a an ad measurement system, and really are interested in exploring true engagement. That would be a huge step forward in taking online marketing and advertising from the level its at today (which is mostly just replicating print advertising, but online) to where it belongs tomorrow: taking real advantage of the interactive nature of the medium.