Understanding Wedding Blog Advertising: CPM Ads

Friday, April 22, 2011

CPM advertising is a type of advertising that is becoming more popular with wedding blogs. It's a legitimate form of advertising, and it's important to understand exactly what it is and how it works if you plan on advertising online.

CPM stands for "cost per 1000" (with M being the Roman numeral for 1000). This means that it is the cost you pay for every 1000 impressions, or page views, your ad displays for. This is different from CPC, or "cost per click", in which you pay only if your ad is clicked on (the type of pay-per-click ad model that Google is famous for). It's also important to note that an impression is different than a unique visitor. A unique visitor can generate dozens or more impressions if they get hooked on the site and click through the archives and different pages.

A CPM is typically sold with a minimum purchase requirement for impressions. One of the industry standard buys for CPM's (for online advertising in general, not just wedding advertising) is 100,000 impressions. So, if you bought a minimum of 100,000 impressions, you would be purchasing 100 units of CPM.

With very few exceptions, ad rates in the wedding industry do not cost more than $10 per CPM for a prime ad spot. At a minimum buy of 100,000 impressions, you would be spending $1,000. There are some lifestyle sites that overlap with a wedding audience that may cost more, but those generally don't exceed $15 per CPM.

If you're thinking that $10-$15 per CPM is low, it's actually not. Several of the mainstream news sites charge $5-$7 per CPM. Granted, they have companies with deeper pockets that can make larger ad buys, but CPM costs are generally not some ridiculously high number.

Wedding and lifestyle sites can charge slightly (but not too much) more than mainstream sites because they have a more tightly focused audience. In the wedding industry, since most companies buying ads are smaller, more expensive CPM's are just not sustainable. How many planners, photographers or independent wedding businesses do you know can afford several thousand dollars per month in online advertising? Not many. The return on investment for a CPM rate higher than the already high $10-15 is just not there.

Some wedding blogs work with ad networks, which allows you to pay one price and have your ad showcased on several different blogs. Some ad networks also offer package deals and tiered pricing, where you can purchase a certain number of impressions on a high-profile blog as well as impressions on less popular blogs for one averaged-out rate. One advantage to this method is that your ad will show up in several places. A disadvantage is that you will run through impressions at a much faster rate. Given the popularity of the wedding blogs you choose, if you spent $1000 on 100,000 impressions (a $10 CPM), your ad will likely only appear on the sites for about a day.

Another option that more wedding blogs are starting to offer is CPM-based geo-targeted marketing. This means that your ad will only display to people who access the site in certain geographical regions. So, if you are in Washington DC and you buy a geo-targeted ad for your region, if someone reads the blog in California, your ad will not display for them. This type of ad allows you to target the regions you want and lets your advertising dollars stretch further. It also allows the blogs to sell more ad inventory because they can sell that space several times over. Win-win.

CPM advertising tends to work better with companies that sell a tangible product rather than companies that sell a service. For example, stationery and wedding dress companies do much better with CPM advertising than a wedding planner or photographer would. There are exceptions, of course, but this is a general rule of thumb with wedding advertising.

If you are considering buying a CPM ad on a wedding blog, here are some questions to ask:

*What is the minimum ad buy required? (100,000 impressions; 50,000 impressions for three months at a time, etc)
*How many average impressions do you serve a day? (If doing geo-targeted, how many for your regions of interest?)
*Which pages will my ad display on? (Front page only? All pages, including vendor directories? If within an ad network, which sites will it display on?)

Advertising on wedding blogs can be a good way to boost your brand exposure, so make sure you are spending your money in the best way possible for your business.

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