What is a CPM?

A New Grad’s Guide to Breaking into the Media Business
By: Cindy Ou

Everyone goes through it: The confusion, the stress, and the (un)necessary fear of the future. In the final year of university, a lot of 20-somethings look at their textbooks and come to the skin-crawling realization that 90% of what they have learned in the past four years is utterly useless in helping them find a job. I, like many of my peers, handed out resumés after graduation like candy in hopes that maybe, just maybe, this company would be the one: the one that would become my CAREER.

Never did I imagine that I would be joining the World of Advertising. Less even, how much I would actually enjoy working in this environment. Like many before me, I began my first foray into the advertising industry through an internship. In my case, it was a mobile ad vendor. I was fortunate that my managers came from the agency world and knew that, in order for me to have a leg-up in interviews, I needed to know the basics.

So, during the third week of my four-month internship, the following conversation took place:

Manager: “Today, we’re giving you a pop quiz, Cindy.”

Me: “Oh what…wait…really?”

Their question: What is a CPM?

My answer: Cost/Impressions

As you may have noticed, I answered incorrectly. My retribution? They made me go through each and every single one of my incorrect answers until I had it down perfect. I appreciated their patience, but I was confused as to why this was necessary. Out of curiosity, I asked why I was given a quiz rather than assigned “real” tasks. My managers proceeded to give me the best professional advice I have ever received:

Cindy, this industry is competitive. There are a lot of smart people who are competing for the same position as you. These questions may seem simple, perhaps even trivial, but if you know your shit people will notice. Know your shit. 

Today, I am working for Media Experts: The company that demands excellence and #givesadamn about our clients, our co-workers, and our industry. I am surrounded by an amazing team of people who make an incredible effort to ensure that I am constantly challenged, learning, and growing.

To those new graduates who are feeling that constant sense of despair and dejectedness that goes hand-in-hand with uncertainty about the future, I have only two words: Go prepared. ​