MODEL 1: CPM (Cost per impression)
The biggest advertising revenues on the internet market come from the CPM model or, in other words, the sale of impressions. An impression is every single reload of your website. If a consumer enters your website and opens five articles, it means that they have made five impressions. You can place advertising banners on each of these five pages. As a standard, the price is set per 1,000 impressions, where the last word in the CPM abbreviation comes from.
All big online media in my country still use this sale principle. The problem here is that it is more efficient for image campaigns. These are campaigns that do not aim at direct sales but rather at imposing certain brand or service among consumers. This is how the big advertisers in the country do their advertising. They have big enough budgets to afford this type of campaign and it is not a problem that a small number of people will click on the banners because this is not their major goal. This is also the reason why these advertisers place their logos on buildings, billboards, vehicles, etc. It is not because you will go and change your mobile operator the moment you see the advertisements but rather because you will remember them as they regularly you about themselves.
Who are you?
Getting a hold of big advertisers turns out to be very hard for someone outside the advertising business. In 99% of the cases these advertisers are hiding behind several advertising agencies – some of them create their ads, other plan where to position them and under what conditions. The question is how to enter the list of websites among which the budgets are allocated. And the answer is – it is really hard. The first reason is that your project is a new one and only a few people are acquainted with it.
Having 5,000 visitors a day does not mean that you are already a leader and that everyone should nod their head knowingly when hearing the name of your project. If you have done your job well, your website enjoys a decent number of visitors and you make efforts to have its name mentioned by the media, and this way you increase the chances of coming into the sights of those that allocate the budget. But this is not enough.
What do you want?
Even if you are already a proven leader in a certain segment, it does not mean that the advertising will start flowing smoothly towards you. The advertising market is a money-making machine that lives on and because of the money. You should realize the fact that no one cares who you are and how good your product is unless they can gain something from you. That is why you will be offered to share your profit with those, who distribute the financial portions. No, this is not corruption. It is called commissioning – for a “small” commission of 30% to 50% someone may include you on the list of websites for advertising. Everything is official and, in the end, you have no other choice but start selling your advertising door to door on your own.
What are you fighting for?
If you decide to sell your advertising area directly to advertisers, you will be faced with an interesting paradox. The advertiser may like you and ask you for advertising area but the advertising agency they use, which will not get a commission, in this case, will tell them that you are not good enough and the advertising will not be efficient. If you have reached a really high level and your website is already distinguished as a leader, you may overcome this obstacle, as far as the decision-maker of the advertisers likes you enough.
The moment you start thinking that everything is perfect, you will be hit by the latest blow when the advertiser requires for the deal to go through an advertising agency so as to take advantage of an advertising discount and you will be forced to pay a commission to the agency for you doing its job. You should bear in mind that there is almost zero chance to reach big advertisers under this scenario. You should not underestimate the fact that when you communicate directly with the advertiser, the agencies become not too friendly towards you, to put it mildly. In the end, this way you are working against them. Not only will such actions fail to guarantee you a place in the media plans for different campaigns, but you may even be banned from entering such campaigns.
I know that it sounds despairing and sometimes even unrealistically complicated and senseless but this is the reality until you become very big. If you manage to make your website strong enough to be a factor on the internet and to make it impossible for advertisers not to notice you, then you will get your slice of the pie. However, this requires years of hard work, while it is most likely that some big player buys you before you become important enough.
That’s now all… let me introduce you to the metrics
Even if for a second you dared to think that you can beat the system, which has been developed for years with the exact purpose to keep the money of advertisers away from random projects like yours, now I am going to absolutely dash your hopes by bringing in the metrics. These are independent systems that aim at monitoring the traffic of your website. Every normal website uses Google Analytics, but sometimes this is not enough for advertising agencies and they love to rely on independent metrics, such as Gemius and Nielsen. These systems collect different information about your audience – age, interests, education, and also a number of visitors and impressions on daily and monthly bases.
These two metrics play the role of a guarantee of what you declare as a number of visits and impressions on your website. It sounds logical but apart from the logic, there are also fees you have to pay to command their services. The fees can be set in the form of fixed monthly amounts or depending on the number of impressions you generate per month. Thus, apart from the standard monthly expenses, you should also add this fee to your website’s maintenance, although it has not started making money yet.
My personal experience shows that there is no correlation between increasing the number of advertisers and the sold advertising after adding or excluding metrics. That is why I advise you to command the services of Google Analytics for free.
Yet, miracles happen on the internet
I am a person who rarely gives up and when I encounter a system that is not working properly, instead of trying to correct or fight against it, I simply find a way to bypass it. When you bypass something instead of going right through it, you make several steps more and spend more energy but eventually, you reach your goal. So, although the well-oiled advertising machine is not letting you in and is actively underestimating you, you should take full advantage of this situation.
A few years ago I decided to bypass the system yet again. We wanted to popularize book reading among young people in my country through a mass campaign called the Cool Reading, a logical continuation of the Big Reading campaign launched by the public television, but targeting a younger audience. Naturally, the campaign was organized online. If I had to count on advertising agencies and other mediators, I would have been forced to postpone the campaign with six to nine months and cut the revenues significantly. That is why, together with my colleagues, with whom we have often sold products in a manner that is non-standard for our market, we worked out a plan that bypassed all agencies and yet realized the set goals.
We got in touch with tens of publishing houses and attracted them as participants and sponsors in the campaign. We also got into direct contact with Samsung and Microsoft but we did not sell advertising to them, we sold them a cause, we sold what we believed in, and… things worked out. The campaign attracted more than 1,500,000 visitors in two months. The most curious fact was that none of the publishing houses in question had ever advertised online. Thus, they paid for their online presence for the first time through us.
Where is the difference between what we did and what I described above as impossible direct sales? The difference is slight but significant – we attracted advertisers, who never advertised on the internet before and respectively they did not have an already set bureaucratic system that could reject us from the very beginning. The big companies, on the other hand, were attracted not with impressions, clicks, and clichés but with a cause that is close to them and their interests, and meets their mission, vision, and values, for which they would like to work despite the advice of their agencies.