The age of CPM is over, here comes CPH!

August 3rd, 2018 | ACA Team, Association of Canadian Advertisers

Impressions have been marketers’ favourite KPI to measure advertising campaign efficiency for just about forever.

The number of impressions your campaign received will tell you if it worked, right? Wrong, says Yan Le Roux, Managing director, France, Integral Ad Science.

Speaking to an audience of marketers at ACA’s recent roundtable event in Montreal, he declared in his opening remarks that the age of impressions at all costs is over. According to him, a new era is emerging in digital advertising: CPH (Cost per Hour).

After reminding the audience of the dangers of digital campaigns: lack of brand safety, visibility issues, fraud… Yan got to his point.

The number of impressions by themselves cannot measure a campaign’s performance, he said. That is because a crucial piece of data is missing from the equation: the time these impressions last.

Quality vs Quantity

The key, explained Le Roux, is message quality. And what determines this quality, according to him, is how well consumers react to the ad’s message.

But, he pointed out, judging viewers’ receptiveness on the sole merits of exposure (impressions) is very difficult.

All impressions are not created equal. Some ads are static, and without images. Others may be animated, but they are small and nearly invisible. And what can one say of the various and many formats of video ads, he asked?

Plus, consumers may be exposed to all these ads, but what can they remember of a message they have seen for only a second? Especially, if the complete spot is 30 seconds long?

One must conclude, he said, that impressions cannot measure the quality of the contact between consumers and brands. But then, how can quality be determined? It is a subjective value after all.

Goodbye impression, hello attention!

Le Roux’s answer to this problem: Measuring exposure duration. If the number of impressions does little to reveal the efficiency of a campaign, the length of time that the exposure to these impressions lasts (simple and cumulative) provides a key piece of information to advertisers. It tells them the consumers’ actual attention levels.

However, Le Roux warned, exposure time is not an end unto itself. The challenge is to determine the ideal exposure duration for one’s brand, and that varies with each industry, campaign and channel.

Duration is not an end unto itself. The goal is finding the optimal one.

Finding this ideal duration is important as it allows the marketer to optimize his media spend. Duration too short? Weak results. Too long? Money spent needlessly for results comparable to shorter exposure times.

That is how Yan was able to demonstrate to a client (see graph) that the optimal duration for their campaign was between 15 and 60 seconds. Sure, results for exposure lasting more than 60 seconds were also positive, but why pay more?

Marketers have done all they could for years to get the maximum number of impressions at the lowest possible cost. Le Roux thinks that it’s time to get back to the basics of advertising: creating a quality relationship between brand and consumer.

For that, the best possible creative and the optimal exposure duration are key. Yes, buying for CPH may be more expensive than by CPM but, given the many problems of efficient impression delivery, costs tend to even out, he concluded. Plus, quality, and therefore efficiency comes as a bonus!