This is the idea that the CPM model is an inadequate measures of performance and therefore their pricing needs to change.
1) CPM. We still don't know that when a user sees a display-ad if she is more likely to buy that product. We can run focus groups, we can measure clicks, we can run surveys. But we don't have any directly correlated and measurability. This is one of the reasons why I am sure we will see a proportional drop-off in display ads (recession or no recession).
2) Forget consumers, advertise to influencers.
It is not really display that influences buyers at all. It is key community influencers.
How are people solving the above problems?
When you’re concerned about the veracity of your performance metrics, the obvious way to get around them is to advertise only to be people who you know want to buy.
A range of methods exist:
• Targeting certain online behavior like Blue Lithium.
• Targeting specific geographies like Yahoo Smart Ads
• Targeting specific interest groups
• Targeting certain communities only at certain times “timing”. E.g. look at Freeads.co.uk weekdays 11.30 – 2pm; it will be dominated by McDonalds ads.
2) Influencing the influencers
Good customers cannot be identified soley by their purchases (see Leveraging user generated content from forrester ).
Some advertisers are beginning to believe that it doesn’t matter if you’re CPMs are wrong, so long as you’re targeting the right people.
“Now it’s about activating people of influence. They will then promote your brand continually because it protects and extends their personal reputation. People activate based on uniqueness of information, trust and credibility of source. CNET claims to be zeroing in on the 50% of advertising that does work.”
Neil Ashe, CEO CNET . See also "Understanding Influence and Making it Work for You,".
CNET claims to get higher CPM not because their audience are High Net Worth Individuals (like FT.com & Economist does) but because their audience is chock full of influencers.
Forrester have gone one step further by claiming that metrics will focus on the acquisition of evangelists rather than purchasers. They predict that a completely new metric will emerge called the cost per acquired advocate (CPPA).
3) WOM agencies
A few specialist word of mouth agencies are emerging specifically to target the influencers. They are telling brands to allocate their cash to specific users and attempting to knock the bottom out of the CPM market.
There seems to be lots of suspicion today over online performance metrics. A number of developments are trying to solve this including media mix optimization and new targeting techniques.
The concept of effectiveness is core to bridging the online offline shift but arriving at a single measure of effectiveness is a big challenge for the industry.
The commonality for all advertisers is that they want all want a reduction in risk. They want to get better bang for their buck. They know the web is changing things but it’s still too early to know how and exactly what they should do.