CPM. The cost of 1,000 of just about anything…in our world the cost of 1,000 viewers/listeners/readers/experiencers… and a monetary metric that has been in use since the first thousand cave dwellers trooped by to look at the paintings…

And that is the point. It’s an old metric; a tired measurement. Yet, it is one that is still used – even in digital channels where the implied promise of connection is up close and personal – not aggregated and public.

I recently participated in a roundtable, with a number of well funded Digital Start-Ups, where CPM was the key topic of discussion. Most of the companies were focused on analytics of one sort or another or delivery of content using analytics. Each professed to be able to make the user experience more intimate and more individual. To finally help fulfill the full, and so far not delivered, potential of the Internet and all of its digital siblings and offspring.

Also present was the “money” the majority share holders; the funders; the nurturers of promising start-ups with big exit potential.

The discussion was around CPM but it was around a fear that other metrics based on performance would supplant CPM and the concern was that it would limit their revenue and earnings; lower the valuations of their companies and make their exit strategies one day less lucrative.

I pulled out my soapbox and my megaphone and began to wail on them!

CPM? More justification for the useless term “EYEBALLS” that investors created at the beginning of the boom (and some still use) to justify ridiculous valuations and stupid amounts of money paid to companies that have been long gone and forgotten – and to some that are still here and have yet to pay out…

CPM? As bad as cost per-click-through or cost-per-view, other measurements that can be manipulated as sites know how to drive user or create funnels of travel that force inflated and meaningless traffic by and through meaningless pages of irrelevant content.

And, no matter how hard I pushed – and I pushed – the crowd was on the side of numbers for building revenue, i.e., pay-out for the deal

That said, there were a few people who passionately talked about transactions. And read transaction as whatever final action your engagement is looking to consummate. It could be a sale; a download; a sign up. It could be getting someone to share with a friend or agree to a face to face visit. It could be signing up for a credit card or booking a test drive or buying a burger. But it isn’t based on CPM.

What really got me – or brought me to the “AHA” moment if you like – was the notion that this crowd of Generation Internet began talking about branding and looked at in isolation. A few even (shudder; shudder; shudder) used the term above the line and below the line (more shuddering).

Yet they are selling analytics tools or systems that are designed to bring the message home to create the relevance of personalization that just doesn’t lead to or induce sales – or merely create a positive atmosphere for a sale. Rather, it allows a “sale” (transaction) on the spot and in a context that is relevant and brand powerful in a way that CPM based messaging cannot be,

And that lead me to this thought.

We say we are about conversations – impactful conversations – right? Yet what really separates us from advertising agencies (many of which now believe they need to be in the business of analytics; ROI and measurement as we are)?

Then it struck me:

Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.
– Margaret Millar

CPM: a monologue delivered in the presence of witnesses. If ever there was a filter by which we can judge our work and its relevance to what we say we do, here it is.

By the way,I think we can apply this to our own personal behavior as well. It makes a great and humbling filter…

So, conversations or monologues with big audiences, CPM or something else…

You tell me…

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