Digital advertising is one of the most popular ways to promote your brand and business. The launch of a product is always accompanied by the necessity to grow awareness and monetize it. One of the most difficult tasks marketers face is to get as much buzz as possible.

In contrast to traditional advertising, digital space has a lot of creative and new ways to showcase your product. Social media, Google Adwords, Youtube are just a few most common examples that brands use. Thanks to digital advertising, marketers have more opportunities to track the success of campaigns. They also have more tools to understand consumer actions and preferences.

One of the common advertising models is called Cost Per Mille (or CPM) — an amount of money a brand pays for 1000 impressions.

There is no way to ensure people viewed your ad

Even though technically CPM can bring a lot of noise around your product or brand, it can be potentially seen by thousands or millions of eyeballs, practically it isn’t worth your time and money. Here is why.

CPM model to advertise was a goldmine before digital marketing came into place. The effectiveness of TV, radio and billboard advertising is relatively hard to prove, as there is no way to guarantee that the ad was indeed seen by 1000 people.

However, digital space brings its challenges to this model. It all starts with the definitions of an ad impression.

For instance, Facebook states that an impression will be counted if any part of the ad greater than zero pixels and greater than zero-second appears on the user’s screen. Meanwhile, Google confirms that ‘Each time your ad appears on Google or the Google Network, it’s counted as one impression. In some cases, only a section of your ad may be shown.’

So, in the end, brands end up paying money for impressions that their consumers may not be even seeing.

Interestingly, almost 60% of digital ad spend in the US goes to Google and Facebook.

Since these platforms charge advertisers for impressions, they don’t really care whether the quality of the audience is good. Your ads may be displayed to irrelevant crowds who have never had any intention to interact with your brand.

CPM type ads have extremely low conversion rates. Firstly, because this model hasn’t been created to cater to those whose goal is conversions. Ads that serve impressions as a primary purpose are generally hard to use for conversion generation. Business for Apps reveals that CPM ads generate at best a 1% conversion rate on mobile. This means at least 10000 people need to see your ad so that you’d get 100 clicks on the ad.

What are the better alternatives to CPM advertising?

Alternatives to CPM will depend on your campaign goals and overall marketing strategies. I will split this category into three parts to share my ideas on three major marketing goals any brand may have: awareness, consideration, and conversion.

1. Best alternatives to improve your brand awareness

  • Cost per view (CPV) is a model where a view counts if the ad has been seen for at least 1 second and at least (or more) than 50% of the pixels for display advertising (internet websites, apps or social media through banners or other advertising formats). If it’s a video, it has been viewed for at least 2 seconds.
  • Cost per completed view (CPCV) is a model for video ads, where brands would pay if a person watched 100% of the video length.

These two alternatives give more power to the advertiser’s money and better guarantees that the ads were actually consumed by the audience. In this way, brands are more assured that their brand awareness efforts don’t go in vain. CPCV, however, gives better control of marketing spending and gives better value to an advertising dollar.

2. Best alternatives at the consideration stage

  • Cost per click (CPC) is a model where you’d pay for a click that drives traffic (from social media or Google ads) to your website.
  • Cost per lead (CPL) is a model where you’ll be charged upon catching a potential customer through a dedicated sales form. CPL is very common in B2B marketing, where immediate sales are very unlikely.
  • Cost per install (CPI) is a model where you’ll pay for every app install.

The consideration stage is a very important part of every marketing strategy. Brands, here, try to engage with consumers who are aware of them or who are in search of certain products or services. Having the power to pay for clicks, leads or installs will give you more control over your marketing budget.

3. The best alternative for consumer conversion

  • Cost per action (CPA) is a model where the advertiser pays for an action, which could be a purchase, download a digital product, add a product to the shopping cart, sign up for a service, etc.

This is definitely the most attractive advertising method to brands, however, few publishers will actually use it, as they bare high risks — no completed action, no revenue.

My suggestion, therefore, is for brands to look at the CPCVV advertising option, which is a merger between CPV and CPCV.

Cost per completed view viewable or CPCVV is a term that I invented to describe the opportunity that big brands should use. These brands don’t expect to make sales online, but rather work on a branding strategy that would disseminate information about their product to a broad audience.

Instead of looking at CPM, these big brands should focus on their ads being actually viewed by potential customers. This is currently not possible to ensure via the CPM model due to the technicalities that publishers like Google and Facebook established as a basis to charge more money.

Why should your brand choose the CPCVV advertising option?

Video is one of the most powerful advertising tools. This is why advertisers should pay particular attention to video advertising and make every dollar worth it. Naturally, the goal here is for people to actually watch the video.

Therefore, I suggest that the ultimate advertising option for video advertising would be CPCVV — where a view counts if at least 50% of the pixels are shown for display advertising and the video is viewed in its entirety (i.e. 100%).

Honestly speaking, in the age where consumers are more in control over advertising and have a relatively short attention span, asking them to complete a 30-second video ad may be complicated. As a result, advertisers have to adapt to this and shorten their video ads, develop creatives that are engaging and impactful, even if they watched a part of it.

This gives the best value to advertisers as they are sure that the video was seen for long enough to make an impact, entice people to find out more or purchase the product.



Prior to deciding on the best advertising model, brands should determine their goals. What is the purpose of the whole advertising strategy? Is it to raise brand awareness? To drive sales? To drive conversions? By having a clear goal, you’ll be able to choose the best option.

There are some brands that primarily look at CPM as the metric because they mostly rely on reach and frequency. However, if a consumer seems only one second of the advertising video, I doubt such an ad has much value in it. That’s why the CPM model is making good money for publishers; as for advertisers, this measure limits their marketing possibilities.

Has your brand ever considered choosing an alternative model to CPM?