Attic Rats, Preroll Ads & Show Your CPM

I was invited to join a web studio yesterday that provides a fixed CPM or cost per 1,000 views. That means the network promises you’ll earn no more and no less per video view… many of my friends have made that choice. It forced me to examine my current CPM and consider how that might change. Is it in my interest to accept a “floor/ceiling” amount? Or am I optimistic it will grow, and eager to benefit from that?

So today let’s look at attic rats, income for online-video ads, and contrast the sorry current state with what industry analysts predict.

Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3, recently posted an intriguing article/rant about CPM prices… it’s titled “How Rats in the Attic Made Me Realize What’s Wrong With Prerolls.” Let’s examine the highlights to get a sense about why brands and online agencies have artificially depressed online-video advertising (despite shifts from print/TV to this medium).

Attic Rat

Problem (according to Louderback):

Unfortunately, even though those two video ad experiences are as different as rats and wine (KN note: Louderback was inspired having received junk mail for rat extermination and wine), they were probably priced at similar CPMs. That’s because the online video ad market – particularly the pre-roll market — hasn’t progressed nearly as far as print. Those were two markedly different experiences, with wildly different levels of engagement. However, for many buyers, agencies and brands an on-line video pre-roll is valued the same wherever it runs, regardless of viewer intent, ad placement and playback environment. It’s as if Trump and “Take Air USA” paid exactly the same for those two print placements – even though their impact is worlds apart.

Solution (according to Louderback):

If you’re a video ad buyer, understand the value differences between in-banner impressions and engaged in-stream video ads. Focus your energy on the latter, and you’ll get far better results than if you lump the two together. Even though engaged, in-stream video ads will be more expensive, they are still a great bargain – especially if when you target demographic or content affinity along with the in-stream purchase.

Now let’s pull a “you show me yours I’ll show you mine” to see what poor targeting has done to the online-video economy. 

Here’s a question for those brave enough to admit in comments below (feel free to use an anonymous name). What’s your YouTube CPM (income per 1000 impressions)? In other words, how much do you make per 1,000 views? It’s easy to compute: simply take your earnings in a given month, divided by the total number of views you get per month (divided by 1,000).

  • Example: you earned $200 last month. Your videos were viewed 100,000 times. So you divide $200 by (100,000/1,000). You get $200 divided by 100 equals $2.00 CPM.
  • Since YouTube keeps about a half, that would mean the company is fetching about $4 CPM… which is horrendously low if prerolls were used.
  • Show us your CPM?
Good news: eMarketer puts online-video advertising growth at more than 43% in the next year and 35% the next year. As marketers become more targeted and sophisticated, we should easily see a CPM lift of 20-30%.

Great Resources on Creating Film Look Using HD-SLR Cameras

What are the best free online-resources to help you create a film look with a digital camera (even a $500 HD-SLR camera will do the trick). While writing my last post about how to create film-like effects using an HDSLR camera within a budget, I realized there’s loads of great articles, blogs, video tutorials, discussion boards and other forums to the free exchange of what people learn in the trenches. So here’s the beginning of a list of some very useful posts — some new and some old. See my last post for tips like using depth of field (with decent lens), 24-frames-per-second, panoramic display, decent lighting and audio.

Now for some free online-resources to help further…


The "bleach bypass" effect is seen here, where black and white (toned silver) sit over a more subtle color.
  1. Curated Articles on Making Video Look Like Film: Urban Fox curated some articles on making video look like film, and is well worth a glance. I especially liked Christina Fox’s article that sums up selecting an HD-SLR camera, using 24-frames-per-second setting, using depth of field, and lighting. He also mentions sound quality, and FilmRiot has a segment devoted to surround sound.
  2. Softweigh Multimedia has some detailed tutorials for building some clever video camera gear at nickles on the dollar. Note that what you’re purchasing is not the device, with supply estimates usually in the 10 or 20 dollars. You’re buying instructions.
  3. DIY Lighting Hacks: You know lighting can turn an amateur video into something quasi-pro, but you don’t know that you can make dramatic improvements to your lighting without spending a fortune. Got a coffee can? A milk-bottle jug, or a ? Want to make an affordable light tent to give your photos or video that catalog-like professional look? Check out Darren Rowse’s “DIY Lighting Hacks for Digital Photographers” at Digital Photography School.
  4. [/caption]Bleach Bypass: There’s a very cool video software effect that comes with some editing packages called the “bleach bypass” (also called skipped bleach or silver retention) look that I used in this Fringe parody. It creates bold colors and a really cinematic look. I constantly search how-to videos before applying this effect, and often mistake “bleach bypass” with “bleach bypass” for reasons that are obvious at least to me. Here’s a nice how-to on creating bleach/beach bypass using Final Cut Pro. I typically use Final Cut Express to fetch this effect, but only after I’ve edited the video using my antiquated iMovie 6.
  5. iJustine Blog: The top YouTuber provides a list of her production equipment in a post titled “How to Make a Video.” Couple that with the VideoFilmMaker’s contrast/zebra effects and you’re in good shape.
  6. Software You Didn’t Know You Needed: Rocketboom has a post about video-making software that I visit every once in a while to remind myself the name of software that I probably already own but can’t find.
  7. Videomaker’s Forum: Lots of smart vid production die-hards peruse the Videomaker forum (see home, which has search) to provide great answers to the curious. As an example, here’s on about HDSLRs.
  8. My little homemade Amazon store features some of the best-reviewed HD-SLR cameras. Buy 'em here and maybe I'll finally make some Amazon Affiliate money to offset my obsessive purchases of gear.

    Howcast Quick Videos: This short, instructional video site was founded by Google Video alumni, and offers a sleuth of simple instruction videos across a wide range of topics. You may want to search Google and Howcast” when seeking a video how-to. The search engine has a difficult time finding just the video production clips, and as you can see in the Howcast search results for “video production,” A refined search for videocamera did somewhat better. Some stink like “How to Get Great Video Production,” which is simply an air. The “How to Get Your Video Noticed on YouTube,” which is somewhat painfully remedial but useful as a primer.

  9. Picking a Semi-Pro Video Camera (in case the increasingly popular HD-SLR still cameras with video aren’t cutting it): VideoMaker’s blog (August 2011) has a nice post on the leading semi-pro (or professional) video cameras available, and here’s the WillVideoForFood Amazon store for these brads, which range from $2K to $5K.
  10. Shirtless Apprentice: While this For Your Imagination show was cancelled in 2008, its archive of production tips are somewhat evergreen, and the format is fun and simple.