Determine reporters' pay by CPM?
Entry updated Feb. 12, 2008 at 12:51 p.m.
What if instead of salaries, newspaper reporters and columnists were paid according to the advertising CPM (cost per thousand) their work generated online?
This question was posed by Knoxnews.com managing editor for multimedia Jack Lail in his entry aptly titled "Your writing's pretty good; how's your CPM?"
Lail's inspiration for this entry was derived from a now-former Yahoo! Finance columnist Penelope Trunk being fired because her column was generating low CPM rates").
For the online advertising newbies, a low CPM means ads sold on the respective pages aren't generating much revenue. It is calculated by dividing total earnings by the number of impressions in thousands.
Advertisers can buy a certain number of impressions for either an entire site, or a specific type of content (such as the jobs section), for a rate determined by the sales team. And because the Web is the most trackable medium, advertisers can be assured that their ads will be delivered to that number of pages.
Now whether or not those ads will generate a click-through to the advertisers' site (or if that click generates revenue for the advertiser) is another story.
As Lail states, I'm sure most reporters would be quite shocked to see how low their CPMs are for their stories.
It would also provide an incentive for going after content that users will click to, or want to view.
But as the days of yellow journalism taught us, this isn't always a good thing.
I see this idea as akin to distributing page view numbers to reporters in an effort to spurn competition in the newsroom (think most-read).
I'm not sure dangling CPM as a sole means for earning a paycheck would be appropriate at this point however. Though it would be interesting to use it as a metric for bonuses or raises.
If anything, reporters and columnists should send an e-mail down to the folks in advertising to ask the question Lail puts forth: "How's my CPM?"