It's Impressions Stupid, Not Traffic


This morning, we received this eager request from an ad network sales rep. This is exactly the sort of thing that really doesn't help the online advertising industry's image and, while this company may be populated with a fine bunch of folks, the message irked us one too many times.

"My name is XXX, from the online ad agency XXX {really an ad/affiliate network). I came across your site and was wondering if you would be interested in getting some business going. Currently we are looking to sell some traffic but we do buy traffic so feel free to make us an offer. We specialize in Pop-under, Floating Ad, and Interstitial formats and work on CPM, CPC, and specialty CPA terms. E-mail me back or give us a call so we can perhaps discuss getting a campaign going with you. Hope to hear from you soon."

First of all, don't come across my site. That's just nasty, Second, it's not traffic. It's impressions. Why is it that reputable companies refer to this ad metric as impression and others refer to it as traffic? Traffic connotes mindless, scatter shot reach to anyone, anywhere without regard for targeting. With impressions, at least the word alludes to leaving an impression which alludes to something with purpose. Oh, sure, you can argue they're the same thing. After all, not every impression is seen by human eyeballs. So hey, it's all just mindless traffic anyway and publishers and advertisers are simply putting up toll booths to collect cash. But, at least for me, talking about the selling and buying of online advertising, which, when done right, involves targeting contextually, behaviorally and demographically, among other things, as if it were all just traffic greatly devalues the medium and its capabilities as an advertising channel.

And thirdly, Pops? Floating ads? Do these companies realize they are pimping the most hated form of online idiocy? Do they care? Of course not. As long as the ROI math works out positively, pops are here to stay. Unfortunately, for us, the math does work out and we have to suffer. It still doesn't make it right.

by Steve Hall    Dec- 2-05   Click to Comment   
Topic: Opinion   

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Steve wrote: First of all, don't come across my site.

LOL. Thanks for the belly laugh.

Posted by: Bitch on December 2, 2005 1:41 PM

Amen Steve. And I thought there was nobody more clueless about blogs than PR people!

Posted by: B.L. Ochman on December 2, 2005 3:26 PM

I don't get it, Steve. You weren't impressed that XYZ Ad Agency called you and wanted to do business? I mean, it sounds like he was about to do oyu quite a favor, you being a blogger and all.

Posted by: David Burn on December 2, 2005 4:08 PM

Funny stuff. I've had those types of calls before.

Posted by: Tyler on December 2, 2005 4:35 PM

I'm not quite sure I got your point...

To me traffic means driving visitors to a website. Thus, an impression driven ad model (CPM, lets say) is not as accountable as a click driven ad model (CPC), since an impression may not guarantee to drive traffic, and this specifically puts advertiser at a disadvantage. That's why I think a focus on traffic compared to impression seems OK to me.

Regarding CPA focus of the company... From my perspective, CPA model, if the object is acqusition, is the best option for both parties. We're looking into two things here though. First, context of the ad should be suited to the ad and advertising medium should be strong / accountable from the viewpoint of the consumer (So an acquisition will be more likely). Second, the audience who will be attracted to the specific content should be more or less the target audience for the ad, in terms of demographics or psychographics and such. So, this model puts pressure on the ad network, and the publisher, however, if they both do a good job, they will enjoy significantly higher commissions / rates, driven by the accoutability of the model. Many performance driven ad networks are thriving today, performics is an example for this.

So... Although I agree to your point with the pop-ups, I see no problem with this company's approach. Perhaps I have misunderstood something.

Posted by: Onur Kabadayi on December 6, 2005 4:19 AM