CPM Is A Dead Man Walking. Time And Audience Reach Are Staking Their Claims

Any court would lock up the digital advertising industry -- and with good reason. Not only does it dish out and charge for more adverts that are unviewable than those that have a chance to be seen, but even among those that are viewable, Nielsen figures suggest, 40% do not reach their target demographic. So with only a one in four chance of actually being viewable by someone a brand wants to target but with a 100% likelihood they will be charged for, digital display has a lot to answer for.

That's why there has to be a shake-up. Trust me, it's coming. Brands can't throw away something like three-quarters of their display budgets on thin air. Imagine a television salesman or print sales team only giving a top brand a one in four chance that the claimed readership will be exposed to their latest campaign as they sign on the dotted line.

So that's what makes today's announcement so interesting. It's an innovative move away from pure digital metrics to include the time element offered by radio and television. So rather than buying 1000 impressions at x cost, advertisers will be able to say they want x amount of times exposure to this or that key target audience. 

I chatted at length recently with the IAB about viewability. They were the first to admit that the recent 50% of pixels viewable for one second ruling on what makes an ad "viewable" ruling was simply rubber stamping a widely accepted industry standard. They were surprisingly open on how difficult handling viewability in video advertising is proving to be.

The take-out from the conversation was that digital was going to start to be measured, in some quarters at least, in a television style of time and exposure. This, the IAB believes, is one potential logical outcome of video advertising being in the ascendancy.

Rather than how many impressions were served, then, metrics will focus on achieving so many minutes of a key demographic's time during a specified campaign cycle. This would ultimately lead to metrics focussing not just on time but on reach and audience share -- exactly how things are done in television.

With millions upon millions of pounds being wasted on adverts that only stand a 50:50 chance of being seen at best, and, if you follow the logic, only a one in four (ish) chance of being viewable to the audience you're looking to reach, you can see why things have got to change. Computerised metrics were there to help advertisers, but they merely prop up a failing system at the moment.

Advertisers want reach and exposure, and they quite rightly only want to pay for what they are delivered. 

Mark these words, CPM is set to evolve over the next few years to include some way of accounting for audience reach and time. is ahead of the proverbial curve on this one.

Advertisers are waking up. The days of "spray and pray" are drawing to an end.

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