The Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) released a study today called "The Value of Behavioral Targeting" -- derived from explicit data from 12 ad networks, including nine of the top 15 ad networks by total unique visitors according to comScore's December 2009 rankings. These ad networks shared their average CPM rates and conversion rates for run-of-network, behaviorally targeted and basic retargeted advertising. Click the image below to view a larger image ....
They reach 3 important conclusions:
- average CPM for behaviorally targeted advertising is just over twice the average CPM for run of network (RON) advertising.
- behaviorally targeted advertising converts better -- more than twice the rate for RON advertising.
- since ad networks get their inventory from Web content and services providers, this makes BT an important source of revenue for publishers as well as ad networks.
Not sure I'd fully agree with that last point -- it's depends entirely on how ad networks are working with publishers. Most of these ad networks are buying as cheaply as they can still, through auction-based ad exchanges and such where they benefit from the fact that supply is greater than demand. This results in an imbalance in the online advertising marketplace, where publishers are actually at a disadvantage. The publishers working with the Rubicon Project though are in fact seeing higher CPMs as a result of audience targeting.
See the full study here.