The math of digital display campaigns

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Here’s a math equation for you, let me know if you think I’m confused:

$5 is more expensive than $9.

Got it? You hand me five dollars, and it will cost you more than if you hand me nine Mr. Washingtons.


Let me explain.

Many providers of digital advertisements will charge you somewhere between $5 and $9 per thousand ads to show your local display ad. These ads work – fantastically. You capture an audience that is focused, and in a place to act (often sitting at their desk at work or at home).

But where are those ad impressions going to show? Are they going to show at all?

Here’s a tip: always make sure you require that your ad be shown above the fold. While that newspaper term is a little old-fashioned – it captures a simple concept: you want your ad to show on the top part of a website – not below the “fold” or scroll line. Why? Because chances are your ad isn’t going to be seen. Some sites will run three, four – even five ads in the right column – stacked up, or spread out from the top to the bottom. The only ad unit that is guaranteed to be seen is the top one.

So back to the math.

Let’s say Website A charges you $9 per thousand ads – but guarantees the message will run “ATF” or above the fold. That means that the vast majority of your impressions will be seen by a human being.

Website B will cut you a heck of a deal – just $5 per thousand ads. But they carry three ad units in the right hand column of their site – and only 1/3rd of your ads will show above the fold. That means your $5 worth of ads is only guaranteed to be seen by human eyes 333 times.

Website A – $9 for 1,000 impressions.
Website B – $5 for 333 impressions.

Simple math shows that you are really paying $15 to get 1,000 guaranteed impressions.

Now, some of those below the fold ad units will be seen – but on the home and landing pages, the vast majority of users don’t scroll very much. Also, once a user takes an action like scrolling, they are less likely to see your ad message.

If you’re a local advertiser looking to make your dollar go as far as you can – either buy sites that only place your ads above the fold, or require that site to run your ads above the fold.

(Disclosure: Don Day is the digital sales & product manager for KTVB.COM).

Something’s brewing with the ITD

Woodland Empire Ale Craft Sign

Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery. – Charles Caleb Colton

It appears that the Idaho Transportation Department isn’t a fan of craft brew. Or, more specifically, a billboard about craft brew that looks too similar to their highway signs.

So they’ve requested that Woodland Empire Ale Craft take theirs down.

The billboard, created by Oliver Russell, was meant to leverage the environment at the intersection of 11th and Front streets on the connector. As westbound vehicles approach the intersection, they are presented with a row of existing highway directional signs. The Woodland Empire billboard emulates the colors and graphics of these directional signs, but with a headline that reads “Craft Beer–Right Here.”

Woodland Empire contacted the City of Boise prior to erecting the sign, and was told it had no regulations governing design requirements for an on-premise billboard atop a private business’s roof. Turns out, according to Dusty Schmidt, one of the brewery’s partners, this is a very special case. “Because we sit within the city limits, we thought we were in the good, but our brewery also happens to be near the connector, which is actually a state highway with different rules.”

It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission. – Grace Hopper

By no means is this the first time that a business has gone the ‘ask forgiveness’ route with signage, names, or other identifying marks. In recent memory, Boise Fry Company originally opened as Idaho Fry Company, but was forced to change their name after the Idaho Potato Commission determined it infringed on IPC’s certification mark on the use of the word Idaho with anything related to potatoes.

As for Woodland Empire Ale Craft’s sign, Schmidt said the brewery never intended to create a traffic issue, and that the brewery is now in discussions with ITD. “We just wanted to let the 37,000 daily commuters know where they could get a delicious, hand-crafted beer,” he said.

And true to character, Dave Cook, Oliver Russell’s creative director, questions whether it constitutes a true safety hazard given the many other signs and billboards along Front Street. “All billboards distract drivers,” he said. “Especially the good ones.”

Client-side job opening: Visual Designer

Healthwise in Boise is looking for a Visual Designer to join their team:

Healthwise is looking for a visual designer to join their product marketing and product design efforts. You: a passionate designer with a great eye, digital and print experience, and an unbridled joy that stems from team ideation and interaction. You’ll work with a seasoned art and marketing directors, and a team of great copywriters and engineers. Healthwise is a unique place with plenty of opportunity for you to grow, lead, and develop one outstanding portfolio in healthcare. Good benefits. Dog Friendly. In the great outdoor/family town of Boise. Relocation available if we’re interested in you and you’re interested in calling Boise home.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Find out more:


Yesterday afternoon I was able to get together with a couple of colleagues here in Boise. We talked about the usual things — families, life, kids, etc. We also talked a little shop, of course. It was a good chance to catch up with some old friends that I haven’t seen in far too long.

But later that evening I had a strange realization — in some ways, I’ve inadvertently become the Kevin Bacon of the agency world here in the Treasure Valley. Between the places I’ve worked and the people I’ve worked with, there’s a good chance you could connect anyone from Seattle to Salt Lake and points far beyond through me.

Nothing more than a humorous observation on my part, of course. But for Pete’s sake, please don’t start calling me Kevin Bacon.

Crap. Too late. It’s going to be a thing, isn’t it?