Wow, big news about RB's $40MM online video buy! For those of you who don't know, RB is the manufacturer of products like Lysol, Woolite, and Clearasil (says AdAge). The bigger news here – far bigger than the fact that they're spending $40MM in online video – is the fact that they're "demanding" $2 CPMs. This demand was so low that YouTube originally sat out the buy. Think about that. YouTube, where the majority of videos are still at the quality level of people jumping off their house onto a trampoline, wouldn't even dip this low. So why is demanding this CPM such a big story? Nope, not because it's going to set a new industry standard. Not because RB will help single-handedly drive down the cost of online video. It's because it shows that despite the vast and rich quantities of available online metrics, most marketers are still using traditional media tactics to negotiate and purchase their media – all their media – including online.
It's funny. Articles continue to pop up about the inability to truly measure online video because we can't convert it backward 50 years to the TRP metric. Yet, with TV you can't measure how much of the spot someone watched, whether they clicked a companion banner, whether they converted to an action later based on a click or an impression, interacted with the video if it allowed such a thing, and the list really goes on. With all of these advanced metrics, and don't forget brand studies, RB is going to spend $40MM in online video and it appears that their primary goal here is to pay a certain CPM. Why does the CPM even matter if they have certain interaction goals or even brand goals? What if paying $6 instead of $2 yielded 4x the interaction or 4x the lift in 'intent to try the product' from a brand study? Moreover, what if their biggest competitor used this strategy while RB celebrated its 3x less CPMs and 4x less effective metrics?
My experience with these types of buys is that CPM is the big focus up front, but once the buy starts it must perform to metrics that often weren't discussed before the buy began. Wouldn't it make for a more harmonious relationship between client, agency, and publisher, if everyone was on the same page before and after the buy started? More than I've had to realize recently, the online community still has quite an uphill battle ahead of itself to convince marketers that, online is not only its own animal and shouldn't need to withstand an attempt to shoehorn old thinking into a new more robustly-measured medium, but to be used to its fullest will require embracing the advanced metrics that can drive real learning and real performance when done right.
The RB buy is a big win for the online video community, but it could have been bigger had it been approached with online thinking and objectives.