NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Online ad rates, we’re told, are on an express train to zero, helped along by gagillions of impressions generated by Facebook, Twitter and its ilk, and the networks, exchanges and targeting technologies that allow advertisers to buy audience as a commodity, without dealing with individual sites at all.
And while the recession has put another hit on CPMs — the term ad buyers and sellers use as shorthand for the cost for 1,000 impressions — across the web, some sites can still pimp fat ad rates either by virtue of their reach, specialised audience or unique environment.
Who’s getting the best ad rates on the web today? The slideshow that follows, culled from agency buyers and media sellers, is far from scientific, but gives a good sense of who can still charge bank and why.
At 10 billion ad impressions a day, you don't get any bigger than Yahoo. Indeed, as CEP Carol Bartz said, 'You can buy a Super Bowl on our home page every day.' That actually makes Yahoo pretty cheap, but it's still a huge chunk of change to ante up, perhaps the biggest single buy on the web.
One of the first live sporting events shown free on the web, CBS still commands a premium because much of the tournament takes place during work hours, when a captive audience of rabid, largely college-educated fans hang on every frame.
The key here is great content combined with limited inventory. Hulu caps the ads at four per hour despite grumbling from network partners that want to see TV generating more revenue on the web. Hulu sells audience, not individual shows, which is what keeps rates lower than those for network sites such as ABC.com.
The news about Comcast-owned sites and email service isn't great with local sites closing in seven of the 12 cities it once covered. Neverthless, it's a targeted list of young urban, opt-in consumers that marketers covet. But here's one reason Comcast paid $125 million for the company in 2008.
Everyone loves AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, but does anyone love him to the tune of $800,000? That's the asking price for the AOL home page, still a beachfront web property with major cred in the fly-over states, but agency folk say the true cost is a bit less. AOL may have fewer unique visitors than Yahoo, but they are known to click on ads, and now content is part of the sales pitch, which helps.
Forget video. Sure, YouTube is selling video (yes, including dogs on skateboards), but its biggest cash cow has become the home page where marketers such as Apple, Harley Davidson and Paramount Pictures drop big budget for custom, video-infused programs.
All the networks get healthy ad rates for their full-length video players; ABC is just the cheekiest about it. Why? Increasingly, if marketers want a show on TV, they want it online as well. And online, they get less clutter, better targeting and a captive audience that cannot skip through the ads.
With nearly 2.7 million followers, she's the top celebrity on Ad.ly, a service that allows Twitter's growing cadre of celebrities to, as we say in the trade, 'monetise' their tweet streams. Is it good? Who cares? It's happening and marketers are paying for it.
The Wall Street Journal can't make enough video and advertisers seem willing to pay just about anything to reach its elite audience of business decision-makers. The latest entry: 'The News Hub,' a live news show airing right on the home page.
There aren't too many good places on the web for pharmaceuical advertisers to reach consumers in an environment where they will tolerate all the FTC-required disclaimers. This fits the bill, though AOL Health ($45 CPM) and other health-related sites also enjoy healthy CPMs.
Martha Stewart isn't the only consumer magazine asking for big rates online (hello, Conde Nast Digital, $20 CPM), but Martha Stewart Living generally gets it, which is expectional for the kind of general audience the title reaches.
You know those annoying interstitial display units you have to close when going to sites like, ahem, Adage.com? Well, advertisers pay a bundle for them! Forbes, which made a big show of kicking out ad networks a couple years ago, sells its welcoming interstitial for a fat $90 CPM. But Forbes isn't the only one selling the high-end business audience for bank. Fast Company asks $125 CPM for its welcome ad.
Leave it to the media company that doesn't really even need advertising to get a fat CPM. Bloomberg, whose media unit is just an appendage funded by subscriber fees from Bloomberg terminals, is charging $50 CPMs for 'c-level standard' display inventory vs. $35 for other business sites.
Turner Networks $500,000 for all-site day-long roadblocks (cnn.com, tnt.tv, nba.com, adultswin.com, etc.)
A couple of years ago execs at Turner thought if they could get all their sites on one ad server they could sell the whole shebang together like a portal (65 million monthly uniques, according to comScore), except with better content. AT&T recently bought it at mid-six figures, twice in their ongoing marketing battle with Verizon. THat means Turner got a rate close to Yahoo with less than half the visitors. Why? Only 10% arrive through search and 50% go to the home page first.
Why is YouTube bending over backward to accomodate network content? Higher CPMs is why. Publisher beachheads within YouTube such as ESPN's garner much higher rates than the average YouTube video CPM of $15.
Want to reach influential people in government, business and media? That's why it's going to cost you nearly $100 for 1,000 impressions at Economist.com. Like other niche pubs, you're paying for efficiency; it's a small audience of 800,000, but for some advertisers it's the right -- and maybe only -- audience.
No, no one at National Journal goes out trying to sell a $364 CPM, but that's what a sponsorship of its influential energy blog works out to, according to a buyer who ran the numbers. And while, the site is running a house ad at this writing, the energy lobby will eagerly pay to reach its 33,000 influential readers. A strong rate but not unique by the way; niche blogs and e-mails that reach decision makers in energy and health care can soar to more than $1,000 on a CPM basis.