Why We Need To Get Away from CPM Advertising

Tom Hespos, writing on the problems associated with advertising revenue based on pageviews:

When publishers sell advertising on a CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) basis rather than on a flat-fee basis, the value of content depends solely on the amount of traffic it can draw to websites and newsletters where ads are displayed. This dynamic has reduced too much web content to the equivalent of internet-forum trolling -- provocative pieces designed to "go viral" by sparking controversy and outrage. Publishing top 10 lists that few people agree with, politically charged short video clips and other pieces of "link bait" that aim to get people to express a contrary opinion has become a viable online publishing business model. Just ask Cracked.com.

I agree. This is extremely pernicious. But Hespos' solution?

What's the content creator's best bet for generating revenue? The simplest solution involves decoupling the value of the content from its traffic-generating ability. You do that by reaching an audience that's so valuable to an advertiser that they chuck the CPM model entirely and pay a flat rate to "own" your content exclusively.

We'll all do whatever we need to do in order to increase the value of our content, but I'd suggest that relying on BT to boost CPMs isn't the answer. Separating traffic volume from content quality would have a much greater effect.

Uh...yeah. Not terribly practical, especially for certain markets.

Hespos is saying you should write for the audience that you want to have, not the one that you actually have. But there's no sense here (at least in this column) of how one makes that transition and acquires that desired audience. And for smaller sites, such as the one I write for, having an ad-sales person who can sell sponsorships is not really a feasible option.

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