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My name's Joel Kelly and I live in Halifax, NS.

I'm a 20something guy doing digital and social media strategy for a Halifax-based marketing agency.

I'm a vegan nerd and marketing asshole.

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Contact me about whatever (like, say, your marketing questions) at

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sell by the CPM

Seriously, don't try to get me to buy ad space on your website based on time. I'm just going to assume you're trying to trick me into paying more than the space is worth.

Internet advertising is measurable and trackable, so I'm going to buy based on measurable and trackable amounts. I'm going to buy based on how many impressions the ad actually receives. So if you insist on selling by the month or week, I'm still going to work out the effective CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and decide from there if it's a good deal. And I'm never going to buy space on a site that can't give me real data on how many impressions the ad is likely to receive. So save us both that trouble and sell on a CPM basis from the get-go.

Now, I understand that it might be a little more complicated for you. Because how do you decide how valuable those thousand impressions are?

Well, first consider supply and demand. If you have huge inventory, you don't want to risk it going to waste and not having enough advertisers buying, or enough impressions being purchased. So you'll want to set a CPM that gets most or all of your impressions purchased.

If you don't get a lot of traffic, you'd better have a great reason why those limited eyeballs are really valuable. Define a niche for your site that makes that small number of impressions worth buying. If you can justify it, you might even be able to set a reasonably high CPM. If you're selling out your inventory, then you're doing okay (if you're selling out your inventory really, really quickly, maybe you should up your CPM).

If you're in the mid-range, with lots of impressions but not more than you know what to do with, you don't necessarily need a mid-range CPM. Again, if you can justify why those impressions are more valuable than the next guy's (if you have a niche website, or serve a need that no one else is covering), then you don't have to charge a middle of the road price.

So if you're selling ad space on your website, those are a few things to keep in mind. And remember, the best thing you can do to get yourself on one of my buys is this: Make it painless. If I can call you up or fire you off an email and expect great service and great ROI, and provide a great experience for myself and my client, then you've got the best shot at getting on a buy.

At the end of the day it's about value for my client, and since they're getting billed based on how much time I spend on a buy, too, if buying on your website gets me valuable impressions without having to spend a lot of time on it, you're doing us all a favor.

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