Quality Impressions are related to Time


In my ongoing quest to change media planning (I’m not in media, nor to I have a specific desire to be), one of my new rants is about time.

When television emerged in the mid-1900’s as the new, dominant consumer medium, ad buying revolved around time. What time were the top shows on and how could I ensure that my spot was in the middle of them? This broadcast model still exists today. Major networks – whether it’s CTV or NBC – value their media space by time and broadcast content. Weekly lists are published to show advertisers what the Top 10 TV shows of the week were and guess what? The better the show, the more the ad costs to buy and the easier it is for consumers to watch (usually between 8-11PM on Monday-Friday).

With the emergence of the Web and the PVR, the question of time fell by the wayside. Now that consumers could consume content whenever they wanted, time became less of an issue. Advertisers were more concerned about getting their products into the actual content to avoid the apocaplyse of the fast-forward button than buying the right placements – even though recent neuro-studies have shown that brand integration within movies and TV shows doesn’t exactly well…work.

When display advertising became one of the main, revenue models for websites, media companies took the old model and applied it to the web – tell us the number of impressions you want or the number of clicks and we will give you the price. Then you’re ads will run on our site for the duration of the campaign period. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Time is not a concern. Final results (impresisons mainly) are.

But why can’t a brand buy their executions based on site time usage. Why can’t we have our ads served at the peak of a site’s traffic on any given day?

A few years ago, I was working on a campaign for a national brand. The product revolved around music and we were targeting youth wherever possible (a ton of mass, loads of TV GRP’s and, of course, a run-in-the-mill online display campaign). After doing a quick Google search, I found that youth web usage to music download sites peaked between 3-5PM on weekdays. Why, then, could we not have our banners run heavy on music sites during this time and not throughout the entire buy?

Because it was never a question media had considered and, as a result, the site had no idea how to handle a request like that. So they didn’t. And our display ads just ran the entire time. Generating the industry average 99.95% fail rate (assuming that the average CTR for a display campaign is around 0.05%).

So here we are. Forced into a world where we don’t buy the best time but just assume because we are on a popular site (like Facebook) that all ad impressions are created equal. They aren’t. And I really hope someone out there in the media world is trying to do something about it.

There’s a media innovation award in it if you do. Promise.

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