The Online Publishers Association (OPA) revealed a study that showed that members of the OPA have better performing inventory than other people.
K, that was kind of mean, but it felt a little Onion-esque to me so I had to roll with it. In particular, they single out portals and ad networks for their righteous slaughter. As always, they don’t give us an excel file to download to do our own analysis of the data, so I have a bunch of questions and problems. I won’t drill down into the “interactive & rich media” ad analysis they did, because my points are applicable there as well (in fact, more true!), but you can read this and then read the study and see all the same issues
“Ads on Content Sites provide double the brand favorability and purchase intent than advertising placed with ad networks.”
- So it seems like Dynamic Logic just aggregated every ad network study they have ever done here. Can we assume that we are basically talking about something that is maybe, MAYBE a slight premiumfrom a price/inventory mix to a RON ad network buy?
- So if ad networks ran 252 campaigns for the sample, and OPA members ran 1,185 campaigns, could one assume that OPA inventory tends to be viewed as more brand friendly inventory already?
- MOST IMPORTANTLY, so if we assume that the average ad network buy ended up being some slight premium to RON, maybe $1.75? (Really good networks might charge more for RON, but this is an aggregation of all networks, which means it is a lot of inexpensive UGC & Right Media), then is the inventory the OPA was selling sold for less than $3.50?
I have heard, and this is just hearsay, that apparently it costs more than $3.50 to buy inventory on ESPN, Forbes.com, CNN, and Cnet.
So even if the results of this study are true, if the advertiser has to pay more than $3.50 then the buy is inefficient. The advertiser is over-paying for the performance lift.
Fascinatingly, when PaidContent covered the OPA press release, Jim Spanfeller, the CEO of Forbes.com jumped into the comments and said (and didn’t say):
“…This study shows clearly that the premium environments offer substancail value above broad based non premium plans…”
A few things jump out:
- As a member of the OPA, his comments are in-line with the assumptions (including the flaws) that the OPA makes. The value delivered by premium environments is not necessarily in line with the cost to acquire the inventory.
- Despite his OPA membership, he does not talk about what kinds of inventory comprise a “premium environment” and that is probably because Forbes.com is starting their own ad network. There is no doubt in my mind that Forbes positions their network as “a premium environment” despite the fact that very little of their non-Forbes inventory probably comes from OPA publishers.
- So one thing I took away, implicitly, and he would probably never admit publicly, is that he may secretly believe that a well-targeted ad network campaign can perform just as well as premium inventory. Which kind of makes sense given the outcomes of this study. Could an ad network campaign with social media inventory perform twice as good as these RON studies? For sure.
(As always, these are my opinions, not my employers)