I recently read an article on the WSJ.com about the effectiveness of various types of ad inventory - premium content sites, portals and network sites (Web Sites Debate Best Values for Advertising Dollars). This lead to some conversation with colleagues about the various types of ad inventory and the fact that the issue is not about site effectiveness - it is really about effective measurement, benchmarks and consistency. Something most marketers don't implement.
I always like to know the sponsor of studies – the OPA (which represents premium web content creators) released the study saying that premium content ads get better branding recall. My experience with these studies is that the represented association always seems to be able to demonstrate why their medium gets great results. I’ve seen countless radio or outdoor studies showing why those mediums are very effective. But I’ll take that with a grain of salt.
The root of the article is asking 'what online sites produce the best results' – content, portal or network. The reality is that this it really depends on the objective. If the objective is clickthru/purchase – that is measured by the ultimate customer action (and is highly measurable). If it is engagement, there are many different actions that can be tracked once people interact with the ad.
The industry needs different and more consistent benchmarks. Creating more robust measurement models to help that help understand the impact of digital on overall brand health and campaign effectiveness. Looking at the effective cost per impression, cost per consideration, and cost per engagement – layering in the traditional inputs of cpm and click through with measuring other actions in the social space. Seeing how a paid impressions generates earned media and what type of impression is generating it. It is time to break down the walls between the different media companies, budget lines (working vs non-working dollars) and social actions to give people a total picture of the digital space.
The bottom line is that regardless of what these studies say, marketers have different objectives and need to develop custom reporting and measurement to better identify the value of the impression to their business needs. If a customer clicks the ad and buys a product – and the value of that click is how much your willing to contribute media to the cost of acquisition - regardless if it is ‘premium’ content or run of site.