Both direct response and brand-focused adver­tis­ers on dis­play are con­cerned about the per­for­mance as well as the type of pub­lish­ers their ads are appear­ing on. Whether their ulti­mate goal is some type of lead/revenue met­ric or an engage­ment met­ric like increased traf­fic or time on site, the “qual­ity” of the pub­lisher plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in achiev­ing those targets.

Even when con­duct­ing a retar­get­ing cam­paign where the adver­tiser is serv­ing ads to those that pre­vi­ously engaged with their site but may not have com­pleted the advertiser’s intended action (i.e. lead form or sale), the type of pub­lisher and ulti­mately domain itself is still key to success.

Eg. A credit card adver­tiser retar­get­ing users is likely to show a higher con­ver­sion when the retar­geted audi­ence is on a site like Yahoo! Finance or Bankrate than when they are on You Tube. This ulti­mately should play a role in the bid­ding level for that given impression.

Each pub­lisher domain of course has its own unique char­ac­ter­is­tics as it relates to CPM, CTR and over­all ROI per­for­mance for adver­tis­ers. This can fur­ther vary between the ver­ti­cal of the adver­tiser on the pub­lisher domain, the nature of the mes­sag­ing and other com­po­nents like sea­son­al­ity and time of day.

There are some broad level insights we wanted to show across the EF Adver­tiser set to help peo­ple gauge the per­for­mance of their cam­paigns as well the oppor­tu­nity for mar­ket­ing spend in dis­play to achieve busi­ness goals.

In Fig­ure 1, we clas­si­fied the var­i­ous pub­lish­ers into 8 cat­e­gory types and show a CPM Index for Decem­ber 2010. These are the top pub­lisher domains by impres­sion and com­prise over 80% of the traf­fic across the adver­tiser set.

Fig­ure 1: EF US Client Pub­lisher Type CPMs


In Fig­ure 2, here is an over­all sum­mary of Decem­ber 2010 data for the 8 dif­fer­ent types includ­ing the pro­por­tion of domains within that cat­e­gory (i.e. Type %) as well as impres­sion share of that cat­e­gory rel­a­tive to total impres­sions in this period.

Fig­ure 2: EF US Client Pub­lisher Type Sum­mary – Decem­ber 2010


One of the more obvi­ous points of note is how much traf­fic comes from video sites, espe­cially rel­a­tive to the low amount of pub­lisher domains (4%) within that cat­e­gory. Video pub­lisher CPMs are also extremely expen­sive rel­a­tive to the other cat­e­gories (61% more expen­sive than the 2nd most expen­sive pub­lisher cat­e­gory which was Shop­ping sites).

It should be noted that the Effi­cient Fron­tier plat­form for any dis­play cam­paign, allo­cates bids agnos­ti­cally to meet the advertiser’s ROI tar­get within given busi­ness para­me­ters such as a monthly bud­get. There­fore, the rea­son why video inven­tory may also be that much more expen­sive that other cat­e­gories is due to its rel­a­tive per­for­mance for EF adver­tis­ers and the plat­form push­ing spend to that type of publisher.

Look­ing at CPMs for cat­e­gories over time will be inter­est­ing espe­cially with those where sea­son­al­ity has the poten­tial to play a large part in inven­tory cost. Decem­ber is clearly a strong month for retail and thus could be the rea­son why that was among the most expen­sive inven­tory over­all. Inter­est­ingly, only 3% of the Impres­sions were on shop­ping sites. This may be due to the fact that  most pub­lish­ers with retail con­tent not want­ing to send users away from their domain so they can sell to them and thus there was less inven­tory avail­able on those types of sites.

It was also inter­est­ing to see a lot of com­mer­cial sites make up the top pub­lish­ers in Decem­ber. These were pub­lisher sites which were busi­ness cor­po­rate sites adver­tis­ing the com­pany prod­uct or ser­vice offer­ing. It may be a case of these sites want­ing to mon­e­tize some of the traf­fic to their sites (i.e. cor­po­rate blog pages) beyond their core offer­ing. The fact that the CTR was the high­est for the com­mer­cial cat­e­gory may vin­di­cate their deci­sion to go down this route.

There are of course other fac­tors such as (ad size), fre­quency cap­ping, above the fold, page con­text, etc. which also deter­mines inven­tory cost, qual­ity and ulti­mately per­for­mance. With this inven­tory also being increas­ingly avail­able for bid­ding in real-time, it is impor­tant that a robust plat­form is employed to man­age an advertiser’s cam­paign to max­i­mize performance.

Chris Jacob