June 15, 2013

A recent survey of advertising and marketing professionals conducted by SQAD highlighted the large gap in the industry’s understanding of TV advertising costs compared to display advertising costs. While a majority (58%) of those polled were able to correctly identify which primetime television program (“American Idol”) had the highest 30-second ad price in the first quarter of 2013, a larger majority of those polled (75%) could not properly identify which website category (Finance/Insurance and Investment) reported the highest average CPM in 2012. The survey was conducted at the 2013 ANA Advertising Financial Management Conference.

The survey consisted of two questions and multiple-choice answers using data taken from actual ad buys found in SQAD’s databases. The first question asked, “According to SQAD’s NetCosts®, which first quarter 2013 primetime program series had the highest average thirty second price?” Fifty-eight percent accurately identified “American Idol” as the correct answer with no other answer coming nearly as close. “Glee” and “Two and A Half Men” came in second and third at 17% and 14%, respectively. The average price for a 30-second spot on “American Idol” in the first quarter of 2013 was $275,000, according to NetCosts.

The second question revealed that marketers generally do not know which online display advertising category is most expensive. SQAD asked, “According to SQAD’s WebCosts, which Website Category reported the highest Average CPM for 2012?” The most selected answer was the Entertainment category (30%), trailed by Finance/Insurance and Investment (25%) and Automotive (22%). The correct answer, the Finance/Insurance and Investment category, was overlooked by three quarters of advertising professionals. According to WebCosts, the 2012 average CPM was approximately $22 for all sites in the Finance/Insurance and Investment category and just $9.50 for all sites in the Entertainment category. The Finance/Insurance and Investment category features notable sites such as CNNMoney,, Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.

“We are finding that many ad buyers are still in the dark about how much they should be paying for display ads, despite the proliferation of online advertising over the past decade. The opposite is true with broadcast advertising,” said Neil Klar, CEO of SQAD. “The industry needs to make display ad costs more transparent so advertisers can make the right the marketing decisions.”

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