Banners are a Bargain

Only billboards are cheaper than banners on a CPM basis, as eMarketer CEO Geoff Ramsey reports in his recent (and very worthwhile) report on the state of online brand measurement (think:  mess).  At a $2.46 CPM, here’s how banners compare:


The full report is here:

It’s easy to trash banners.  I do it.  They’re so easy to avoid.  Kind of like…bus shelters and billboards.  But wait, I like Outdoor advertising.  I can’t actually TiVo myself down the street, yet.  So I actually see billboards.  Briefly, true.  Maybe a few seconds.  Enough for a headline, maybe a picture, a logo and NO MORE THAN SEVEN WORDS, as I recall from our former head of Outdoor planning.  And when I see a really good billboard, wow.  It doesn’t happen much.  It’s so hard to be great in seven words.  So, yeah, Outdoor can become a tonnage play.  Lots of chicken sandwich close-ups with a set of Golden Arches.  OK.  Registered.  (Also registered:  McDonald’s share rose to 46.8% from 43.6% between ’03 and ’08 while BK’s share fell to 14.2% from 15.6% over same time frame).

At two-forty-six a thousand (and declining?), it strikes me that banners are a good buy right now — if you’re willing to consider them as website billboards.  McD’s doesn’t expect me to drive by their new chicken sandwich billboard and DO anything right then and there.  No phone call.  No skipping the airport for a #7 to go.  No checking out their WAP site.  Nope.  They just want to show me they’ve got what they think is a great chicken sandwich.  It probably goes deeper than that back at HQ, but maybe not.  The point is:  the folks at McD’s know what they’re doing.  They don’t think outdoor is a good idea.  They know it is.  Lots of marketers know this.

At these prices, why not look at banners the same way?

Personally, I think relegating a digital experience (like banners) to something as static as a billboard is pitiful.  What a compromise.  But once you start EXPECTING people to engage with the ad unit, you start to measure it differently (ahhh, the click-through-rate).  And then banners really look bad.  (Why don’t people engage with banners?  Because they don’t want to and don’t have to.  This will change.)

So, at a $2.46 CPM, I’m surprised more marketers aren’t saying to themselves, hey, I don’t care if people click on this or not — I just want to let them know we’ve got a great new chicken sandwich.  Or whatever.  As long as they can say it in seven words or less.