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In-Depth Information
Publisher Inventory
As you might guess, the above-described purchasing outlets are all based on available publisher inventory. This can
badly limit a media buyer and be subject to many variables, including but not limited to
day of the week or time of day
popularity of content
percentage of views needed
Let's quickly look at this situation as it relates to a traditional form of media buying for broadcast television. It's
fair to assume you will pay much more for a 30-second ad spot in the second quarter of the Super Bowl than you
would for the same spot on some random channel on late-night television. Put otherwise, as the popularity of a site's
content increases, more advertisers will want to run ads on it. So keep posting good content on that blog of yours!
Can you see why it's often tough for media buyers to secure inventory on popular sites? Since the media buyer's
job is to hunt down and gather all the media appropriate to communicating the advertiser's message within the
allotted budget of the plan, it's really nothing but old-school supply and demand in a new guise.
CPM and Roadblocks
You may be wondering by now, if media is sold based on the popularity, how does this relate to actual dollars? Well,
in the digital advertising industry, this amount is assessed by the number of views an ad gets. A view is called an
impression. A media buyer, looking at the media sheet, will tally all the different places the ad campaign will run to
generate an estimated impression volume. The cost, based on every thousand impressions, could be anywhere from
a fraction of a cent (for less-popular content) to several dollars or more, depending on the many variables already
Since cost per impression—also called cost per mille (from the Latin “mille,” meaning “one thousand”)—is higher
on sites that see a lot of traffic, getting prime inventory on CNN, the New York Times, the BBC, and similar sites can
be difficult. It's especially difficult if you want to be the only advertiser in view that day. For example, an advertiser
such as Apple will typically buy what is called a “roadblock,” or “takeover,” on days it runs campaigns. No conflicting
advertiser's messages will be shown in conjunction with the brand's messages.
A roadblock is really the pinnacle buy, and it's unsurprising that it usually comes at a very high cost. What
makes this buy special is that it normally allows you the freedom to do whatever you want with the publisher's page
content. This may include full-screen video, manipulating page elements that interact with the ad unit, sometimes
even a longer duration of ad animation time. A roadblock, when tastefully done, can provide a brand experience like
no other.
Real-Time Bidding
At the beginning of this section, I mentioned that media buying is typically done after the campaign's digital strategy is
developed and the advertiser's message is finalized. While this is true in most cases, another form of media buying is
becoming ever more popular among advertisers. This new technique of media buying, real-time bidding, is done via
a demand-side platform, or DSP. A DSP is also known as a trading desk for media buying. This means that when an ad
creative is already developed and eagerly awaiting a place to run, the media can be bought or sold via this trading desk
so that it can secure ad inventory on the site and run the ad at the exact time of purchase. Obviously, this is true only
if the advertiser was the highest bidder. RocketFuel ( ) and similar companies are hired by
media agencies and advertisers to manage purchase of media inventory on publisher's sites in real time to eliminate
wasted ad spend. I like to think of it as the eBay for ad buying, only it happens much quicker and often becomes more
cost effective for the advertiser.
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