How Much Should I Pay?

This is a loaded question, as it depends on what you are advertising and where. The important thing to know is how to compare the prices of different places.

You do this by working out the eCPM of what you are buying. eCPM stands for “effective Cost Per Thousand impressions” and is used to turn other pricing models into a CPM so they can be directly compared.

The goal is to know how much you are paying to have your ad shown 1,000 times (and therefore on average, have one person click on it). You do this simply by using this formula:


eCPM Formula or EquationClick to enlarge

eCPM = (Ad Spend x 1000) ÷ Ad impressions


For B2B sites (as in for companies that only exist to provide services to other companies) you could expect to be charged £10+ eCPM as the audience you will be hitting your core audience, and there will most likely not be many people like them around. For all other sites, you can pay anywhere between £0.30 – £10 CPM depending on who you are buying ad space from.

A rule of thumb is that the more you pay, the better ad space you will get, however you will, of course, be told that the ad space you are buying is the best wherever you go.

Therefore negotiating the price down is always your best bet – you should be able in all cases to get the price to somewhere between £3-£8 eCPM depending on the quality of the ad space and the complexity of the ad campaign you want to run.

Remember to always judge your ads solely on performance (and not any nonsense the salesperson spews at you) and you will be able to find the most effective place for your advertisement.

If you have no idea how much to spend on an ad campaign, for your test campaign a reasonable rule of thumb is 50% of your target CPA per day. This means you would expect a conversion every other day – and this level of spend gives you time to optimise your campaign to work out what your actual CPA is likely to be.

Follow the links below for some of the other most important things to take into account when deciding whether an ad placement is worth it or not.


Rate Cards Are Never Adhered To

This is one of many statements we have made which will be vehemently denied by any salesperson you speak to, but in all honesty rate cards are never adhered to. A rate card is the list of prices advertising companies sell at, but most of the time they are only starting points for negotiations. In fact, most companies will have an internal and an external one (with the internal one being the actual minimums they will sell at), so you can be sure that whatever price they start off telling you that they can’t go any lower than, they in fact always go lower than.

There are exceptions to this rule:

  • Companies that have just implemented a new rate card may try and enforce it for a time to get the word out
  • Companies that don’t care about your small budget may not negotiate with you
  • Salespeople who are doing badly may have been told to stop undercutting the rate card
  • Companies/Sales Directors new to the game who don’t actually understand the rate card mechanic yet

In general though – if you see a rate card saying £10 CPM, then you can probably get £8 CPM pretty easily.


Test Campaigns/Budgets

A test campaign is where an advertiser tests a new site or ad network. The idea is the same as any trial period – try the service for a shorter period than usual, or for a discounted rate.

When you are running test campaigns, there is the potential to waste lots of money. Not only does it often take a while for campaigns to be fully optimised and therefore provide you with the best bang for your buck, but sometimes that “bang” never appears at all. That is why it is common practice to ask for a reduced rate when running your first campaign with a new site/network.

Getting this reduced rate is usually contingent on you having more/ongoing budget that you may potentially spend with them later, so this is not available to everyone. It is however also possibly contingent on the desperation of the individual salesperson/company, so you may be able to have a test campaign with a company at a much-reduced rate regardless of your ongoing budget (it doesn’t hurt to ask).

So if a salesperson will not leave you alone and keeps telling you that your ads will perform better on their sites than anywhere else, or that they will give you better customer service than anyone etc, then just ask them to put their money where their mouth is and say you’ll try a test campaign at a reduced rate.

You should be able to get between 30%-50% off whatever they were originally quoting to you, but only for a comparatively short period/small amount of impressions.

You should, of course, take this opportunity as a serious chance to test them out, and see what their company is made of. It should, however, be noted that this test campaign will likely not be a true representation of the companies ongoing ability, as they will either try to impress you or else just ignore your campaign as it doesn’t make them enough money. Regardless, the data you get will at least give you a rough idea of what the company can do for you.


Next: Judging My Campaign