From CPM to CPM(2): Moving Beyond the First Impression into a Second Life

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For most of its existence, advertising has been priced around the notion of X dollars per 1,000 impressions (CPM). Considering the relative consistency of the media landscape over the past 100 years (or so), this has worked well and generally been appropriate. We adjust up/down based on the demographic, the productivity of the ad itself, and measurability. But basically, it’s a viable model that works.

Now, as we find ourselves living in a convergence culture, a “new kid on the block” has emerged (translation: new medium) that is gently challenging this model. Virtual worlds — as a medium — are capable of accommodating a form of advertising where the M in CPM becomes multi-variate. In other words, a single “ad campaign” can produce a number of different types of impressions and consumer touchpoints, both primary and secondary. Let me explain:

For example inn Whyville — a virtual world that edu-tains boys and girls ages 8-15, Toyota’s Scion brand was engaged as an automotive sponsor.. This campaign includes a 3D dealership (way cooler that what you see in the real world), a museum, a finance office, a car configurator, actively mobile cars, owners’ events and much more. The net result is the advertiser becomes immersed within the context of avatar activity, and the delivery of impressions becomes multi-varied. For example:

• A kid or (“citizen” as they are often called) in Whyville can hang out with his friends inside and outside Club Scion. That’s two different types of impressions.
• A kid can take a tour of the Scion museum, seeing virtual and real-world Scions behind velvet rope. That’s an impression (actually many, because the museum’s exhibit is rather large).
• A kid can get ambitious and check out the Scion Configurator, and custom design their own virtual Scion xB. That’s an extremely valuable impression.
• If the kid chooses to buy the Scion xB, he/she can take a ride around Whyville (and even pick up their friends). Because it is a virtual world (think video game), every place they drive, all other kids hanging out at that place see the Scion zoom across the screen. That’s an impression; actually many impressions depending on the number of kids that see the “carvatar” zoom by.
• Kids will chat about the Scions they see. Ever time a kid “chats” Scion that is an impression. And every time another kid “overhears” kids chatting about a Scion, that is an impression.
• And so on.

All told, everyday Scion gets hundreds of thousands of obvious (primary) and not-so-obvious (secondary) impressions inside Whyville. Each of these impressions is authentic, solicited, and significantly more valuable than a traditional banner ad.

This next generation, bottom-line CPM is superior because the quality and quantity of impressions exceeds what is possible with any other medium. A traditional ad (whether it is a tv commercial spot, a radio spot, a print ad, or a banner ad) is capable of making an impression, but that impression starts and stops with the ad itself. There is no echo, there are no aftershocks, no multiple consumer touch points — there is no CPM(2).

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