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August 25, 2022
5 min read

Navigating the New Landscape: Strategies to Elevate CPMs Amidst Declining Programmatic Revenues

Stock market valuations have dropped, signaling that the astronomical growth rates of 2021 were temporary rather than sustainable. While e-commerce will continue to grow, publishers are now facing reduced CPMs, particularly in programmatic campaigns, as the focus shifts away from buying revenue at any cost.

Christian Scherbel
LInkedIn Logo

This article appeared first on inma.org

Decreasing Advertising Budgets

Budgets allocated by major national advertisers and e-commerce giants in digital and programmatic advertising are experiencing a decline. This trend follows the end of the “Corona bonus”, which has significantly slowed the growth of numerous emerging companies. As a result, stock market valuations have taken a hit, and a lot of reports indicate that the astronomical e-commerce growth rates seen in 2021 were not a sustainable trend, but rather a temporary spike.

Don’t get me wrong –e-commerce will continue to grow. Its future looks promising thanks to tech giants like Amazon leading the race towards global dominance. Yet, for many significant players trailing behind Amazon, the future as it seems today is a wake-up call.

This shift has substantial implications for many publishers, who are now struggling with reduced Cost Per Mille (CPM) rates, particularly in their programmatic campaigns. This change is evident as the industry moves away from the previous approach of pursuing revenue generation at any cost on any advertising channel.

New Opportunities in Digital Advertising: The Rise of Local Advertisers

Despite the decline in CPM rates for major digital advertisers, there's a silver lining: local advertisers. This group represents a significant opportunity in the digital advertising landscape, capable of compensating for the decrease in CPM. Readers will be happier as well because they will no longer be chased around by products they saw online 10 days ago.

Local advertisers, however, are often the most underserved in online advertising due to several challenges:

  • Their limited experience in digital advertising makes them difficult to engage.
  • The profitability of selling to them is often questioned, given their typically small budgets (around $100 for a digital campaign).
  • A lack of proper banners and landing pages hinders their ability to effectively participate in online advertising.
  • The overwhelming variety of options available makes it challenging for them to book simple online ads with publishers.

The good thing: This can be solved and the potential return is high:

  • While a typical programmatic campaign cashes in $2 to $5 per 1.000 impressions,
  • A local campaign can easily make $15 to $20 per 1.000 impressions.


Challenge: how to transform SMB print advertisers like this into digital display campaigns

Maximizing Revenue with Local Advertisers: A Strategic Approach

Local advertisers, while needing more comprehensive services around their ads, often lack the negotiation power of large-scale advertisers who command up to 100 million ad impressions. However, this situation presents a unique competitive advantage: direct sales without intermediaries, ensuring that publishers retain more revenue.

Here is how it could work – publishers can identify a group of print advertisers who would benefit from having online versions of their print ads. This strategy could be based on their print advertising budget, targeting those spending less than $500 orthose with less than half a page in print ads.

Each advertiser in this group should be offered a package that includes a set of banners or landing pages, along with a predetermined number of regional ad impressions (for instance, 5,000 impressions for $99 in one banner format). This initial step is vital for establishing a simple, scalable sales model that sales representatives can efficiently promote within a short time frame.

The next phase involves automating the ad delivery process. This is necessary because the constant back and forth between the sales reps and the advertisers can hurt profits, especially when it comes to campaigns worth $100.

Services like Smartico come in handy here. We specialize in creating banners and landing pages directly from the print ad's PDFs, incorporating all relevant data from the print ad, as well as additional information sourced from the advertiser's website, social media profiles, or Google Business Profile listing. This approach eliminates the need for advertisers or sales reps to provide extra information, hence streamlining the process.

Creatives: nice banners out of print data enriched with web data about the advertiser – here in a carousel ad

Smartico Ads: Detailed Analytics and Profitability

Smartico's innovative approach to digital advertising is designed to be a profitable venture from day one, offering services on a "per ad" basis. This model allows it to function as an effective "profit center." A standout feature of our product is its comprehensive reporting dashboards. These dashboards provide detailed insights for each print advertiser, focusing on metrics like "time spent on the landing page," offering a more nuanced understanding of user engagement compared to traditional "click-through-rates."

Evidence from various newspapers, both utilizing and not utilizing Smartico's services, demonstrates that local, loyal, long-tail print advertisers represent a significantly untapped market in digital advertising. This sector offers regional publishers the potential to generate hundreds of thousands in new revenue annually.

A prime example of this success is Schwäbisch Media in Ravensburg, Germany. They implemented an automatic bundle for all their small ads in weekly publications and their daily newspaper, resulting in profits exceeding $300,000 per year. For a detailed case study, contact Smartico at cs@smartico.one.

Publishers are encouraged to be bold in their approach with loyal print advertisers. By offering a solution that caters to the needs of digital advertising –full-service and high-quality niche ads – they can differentiate from the repetitive national campaigns seen across various platforms. High Click-Through Rates (CTRs) from these local, exclusive ads, even behind paywalls, are a testament to how much readers value this tailored advertising approach.

Print advertisers need different KPIs to be reported than CTR. Attention on the landing page in terms of “minutes spent” is a great example of that.


In conclusion, the digital advertising landscape is shifting from high-budget national campaigns to more localized, targeted advertising. This change, driven by the decline in programmatic advertising and e-commerce growth rates, opens up new opportunities for local advertisers. Despite their smaller budgets and challenges in digital engagement, local advertisers offer higher CPM rates and a massive business potential for publishers. By adopting a mixed approach of direct sales and automated ad delivery, publishers can capitalize on this market, offering tailored, high-quality ads that resonate with readers and generate significant revenue.

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