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April 1, 2018

An Exclusive First Look at IDALERT

Evaluating Media Cost Efficiencies On Ad Exposure/Recall Metrics

Although everyone pays lip service to the fact that calculating cost-per-thousand (CPM) ratios for media should be only the beginning—not the end—of a professional media evaluation process, all too often, this is not the case. And even though almost everyone concedes that using “raw” audience data as the basis for calculating the cost to “reach” a thousand viewers, listeners or readers presents a misleading picture due to the limitations of audience measurement, the practice nevertheless continues.

In Intermedia Dimensions 2018, we devote a considerable amount of space to reviewing the pitfalls of current audience measurement (the basis for traditional CPM comparisons) as well as what information is available on ad exposure and ad recall for each medium. In the case of ad exposure and recall, the fact is that there is no standard source for such information. Consequently, the media planner must make do with a variety of studies and adjust “audience” data to make the CPMs ad-relevant.

To demonstrate this point, the accompanying table takes six media options and compares their raw adult CPMs with the probable results, if “verified” ad recall was factored into the equation. By “verified,” we mean that the audience was able to demonstrate not only ad exposure but sufficient recall of the ad and its message to demonstrate that some worthwhile communication took place.

As can be seen in this hypothetical example, radio and magazines, as well as national cable primetime buys proved to be considerably more cost efficient than primetime on the broadcast TV networks and targeted or premium digital options. However, this does not mean that the “correct” recommendation for this media plan would be to use the three “winners.” The various media components of an ad campaign need not all feature the lowest CPMs, raw or otherwise. Other factors, including reach, merchandisability, timing, editorial synergy and audience targeting, are all at play, not to mention the client’s experience with what has worked in the past.

Still, comparisons of the sort we describe in this table—as well as far more sophisticated ones—are often ignored, and media selection is conducted on an arbitrary basis, particularly regarding the value of alternative media mixes. Yes, the required data for the client to make the kinds of adjustments we demonstrated is not readily available, but that doesn’t mean that the media planner shouldn’t be allowed to speculate and, more importantly, to press media sellers for more information on ad exposure and recall, not just audience data.  


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