What’s in a CPM? And how are impressions counted?
How to navigate content recommendation statistics:
The CPM and how it is calculated has a direct and significant impact on your revenue. Unfortunately, today, there is no established industry standard to determine CPM.
As the native advertising space burgeons, with plenty of excellent vendors, each vendor calculates CPM and other elements according to how they see fit. As we compare the results of the various vendors on our platform, we often see discrepancies in uncounted traffic. Uncounted means unearned.
So how can publishers determine the real value of each placement? We outlined below the different ways CPM and related elements are measured.
How is CPM calculated?
In the content recommendation industry, revenue is determined by CPM – cost per mille – or per thousand impressions. If CPM is determined by the number of impressions, what makes an impression? Eyes on a campaign, right? Well, it’s not so simple – and each vendor may calculate this differently.
How are Impressions Counted?
Well, when it comes to native advertising, it’s complicated…It’s the number of times the widget was called to the bottom/side of the article. Each time a person opens an article and the widget gets called to the page, we have an impression.
Each widget, however, includes several campaigns. One of the most common widgets includes six campaigns, 3 x 2 columns. Some content recommendation partners count each campaign as an impression. So, if a widget includes six campaigns, this will be counted as six individual impressions, not one. And it will reduce your CPM when compared against a vendor that counts by widget.
There are several other factors at play when counting impressions.
Viewability is the determination of whether the viewer actually saw the widget. If the widget was called, but the person reading the article only read the first part and didn’t reach the widget on the bottom, will that be counted as an impression? You guessed it – depends on the vendor.
Some vendors will count every single impression, regardless of whether the reader got to the bottom of the page. Others will add to the impression count ONLY if the widget was viewed. If you don’t know the practice of your vendor – now is the time to find out. Depending upon where the widget is placed on the article, the difference between these two methods can be significant. Some vendors will offer the calculation of the VCPM, which will be higher than the CPM, as it is a more selective number.
Let’s say, a reader clicks on a publisher’s site. And reads two different articles. And sees the widget twice. Will this be counted as one impression or two? Most companies do not count unique viewers and will count this as two impressions. However, some vendors do count impressions by unique viewers – and will count the same person seeing two different articles as only one impression. This will give the result of a higher CPM, although not necessarily the benefit of one.
The RPM is the revenue per thousand viewers. In the content recommendation space, this term refers to the revenue of all the widgets on the page combined. Although it may be a variable you are interested in following, it can not give an accurate appraisal of the efficacy of any one widget on your page.
How does WhizzCo count impressions?
You can count on WhizzCo to objectively count impressions. One of our goals as a vendor-neutral optimization platform is to standardize industry terms, thus enabling fair and transparent competition. On our dashboard, publishers can easily view and compare “apples-to-apples” the performance of each vendor.
On the WhizzCo platform, each time a widget is called to the article, it is counted as one impression, whether it was seen or not. We measure impressions in this standard way for all 40 content recommendation vendors on our platform. Using this unified lens, together with our machine learning prediction tool, we can clearly understand which vendor will provide the highest value for each piece of content.