Commentary

Polar: For Branded Content, Kick CPM To The Curb

Polar, a company that helps publishers run and monetize native ad programs, is rolling out a series of blog posts based on findings raised in a recent white paper “Business of Branded Content.”   Native Insider spoke with Greg Bella, Polar’s director of product marketing, about the first post, entitled: “Kick CPM to the curb: Cost-per-view is the future of branded content pricing.

Research for the white paper was conducted over the past several weeks. Interviews with more than 30 chief revenue officers, digital advertising executives, and customers yielded insights about sales and revenues, pricing and packaging, distribution of branded content, content creation, performance metrics, renewal rates, and business challenges.

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Native Insider: What is Polar’s definition of native advertising?

Greg Bella: Native advertising is a promotional unit of the branded content on a publisher’s Web site. It could be in-feed or elsewhere on the site. Branded content could be articles or videos.   

NI: What have you discovered about pricing for native advertising?

Bella: We found that the cost per view (CPV) model is the future of branded content. Sales team enablement is a top challenge for publishers, and there is a lack of case studies on the performance of branded content. Direct-sales models don’t look at any inventory that’s sold programmatically.

CPV is more common when publishers are selling directly to brands. The CPV metric is usually some kind of guaranteed minimum. For example, 50,000 views for a specific article, so that would be $50K if you’re charging $1 a view. If it’s a $25K package, and you get 50,000 views, the CPV would be 50 cents. CPV pricing is one page view per article page. For consumer news Web sites, the CPV is around 20 to 80 cents, while for trade and B2B sites, it’s $6 to $12 per page view on an article page. And video views are even cheaper than article views—they can be just a penny or two for a view.

CPM pricing is much higher. With CPM (cost per thousand) pricing, we found that views of consumer news content are the cheapest--$10 to $16 CPMs for publishers like USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. CPMs for trade and B2B media are pretty high, at $80 to $140; lifestyle and entertainment have $20 to $28 CPMs. Finance and business CPMs are around $25 to $32, with the exception of some legal and business Web sites, which are often higher.

NI: What is the implication here?

Bella: We believe the page view is the currency for success metrics for branded content now. And pricing models will follow suit around CPV. Social actions and average time spent are starting to become more important metrics as well.

Content views and social engagement with the brand content (shares and likes), as well as brand metrics—is the branded content piece actually driving people to buy the brand?—are also important.

The biggest challenge is shifting peoples’ perceptions away from traditional CPMs. So many media budgets are centered on CPMs. Advertisers and agencies need to separate the display programs from the branded content programs.

It’s often the case that the branded content budget is grouped with everything else. And that’s likely to be the case until the CPV metric takes hold.  We found that nearly 50% of the publishers we polled are using CPV.  We believe that media agencies are holding CPV back, as they’re the primary purchasers of branded content. But we also found that 67% of publishers reported that they’re  starting to sell directly to brands. 

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