Janet Izatt has discovered that there’s a discrepancy between the
ratecards for Net and print publications
In the last year, there has been no shortage of publishers launching
Internet titles. But creating a ratecard for advertising in them looks
set to take considerably longer.
While ratecards for print titles are a fact of life, albeit often only
as a starting point to negotiations, there is no consistency to the
shape or substance of existing ratecards for the Internet.
A comparative study of advertising in Net and print titles by the
advertising agency, Chilcott Le Fvre, called the Future of Web
Publishing and due to be published on 31 January, estimates that ads in
Web titles can cost as much as 20 times more than those in comparable
Chilcott Le Fevre’s interactive communications manager, Dr Nigel
Shardlow, says it is difficult to justify the large disparity between
the cost of advertising across a variety of Web titles, and between Web
publications and their print equivalents.
Part of the problem, he ackowledges, is that comparing the two forms of
media is fraught with difficulties. For the purposes of the study, Net
ads are costed according to the number of times a viewer accesses the
page they are on. But, without a tracking study, no-one knows how many
readers come face to face with a print ad.
Such problems make it difficult to assess the value for money of Web
ads, so most publishers prefer to steer clear of discussing ratecard
costs. Instead, they emphasise the importance of partnerships with
As most agencies point out, it is hard for publishers to push a ratecard
when there is a shortage of Internet circulation and readership data to
demonstrate what - and whether - target audiences can be delivered.
Still, this scepticism has not deterred some publishers from producing
The Electronic Telegraph charges pounds 25,000 for a seven-week package,
which includes strip ads, research, links to advertisers’ own sites and,
if required, help in assembling ads.
‘Yes, it’s expensive compared with other titles on the Internet, but we
are interested in people who are committed from the very beginning - and
putting up pounds 25,000 will certainly reflect their commitment,’ Pippa
Littler, the Telegraph’s strategic planner and ad manager for ET, says.
Conde Nast has two ratecards for GQ Online. The first is for an ad in a
traditional magazine-type environment, the second for advertisers that
want to ‘create a virtual shop’ (see box).
Conde Nast’s director of special projects, Colin Lansley, says the
prices are not linked to those of an ad in GQ magazine. ‘We have to look
at our cost-base and editorial input and do a meaningful profit and loss
report on what it costs to run the operation,’ Lansley says. ‘You have
to have the wisdom of Solomon.’
Stuart Snaith, publishing director of BBC Magazine’s Top Gear, hopes to
have a ratecard by Christmas. But, like Lansley, he says it is not as
important as exploring possibilities with advertisers.
News International, which is taking the Times and Sunday Times online in
mid-January, says it will steer clear of a ratecard until they are up
and running. ‘There are so many permutations of what we could do. We
want to talk to agencies and clients about their commitment and tailor
advertising packages for them, without being restricted by a ratecard,’
NI’s commercial manager, Simon Jones, says.
Jones adds that he wants to avoid what he calls the ET’s ‘inflexible
approach’ and look at creating a simplified ratecard. But how simple can
the ratecard be? And what will be the basis for determining the price?
There is little support from either agencies or publishers for a cost-
per-thousand-based ratecard, which is hardly surprising given the lack
of an auditing system to determine audience delivery.
‘CPT is a very conventional way of assessing mass markets, and people
have yet to prove that they can sell mass-market products on the
Internet,’ Ogilvy and Mather’s new-media manager, Saul Klein, says.
Klein favours a ‘payment by results’ system. And Littler agrees that
there should be a more direct response approach to pricing ads: ‘It is
an almost instinctive response of agencies to talk about CPT, but that’s
comparing apples with oranges. You are not talking about an ad in a
general site, but a very targeted site. We will get to the stage where,
for someone like Vauxhall, we can deliver female drivers under 30 and
male drivers between 35 and 40.’
But Stephen Preston, information technology and marketing director of
Yearling Communications, which publishes the InterNet-only title,
Interactive TV Guide, says Net ratecards should be as straightforward as
their print equivalents. ‘Talk about accesses and hits is irrelevant,’
Preston says. ‘We view Net ads as the same as in traditional media -
that is, in the traditional billboard approach. If I have a million hits
in a month, I can’t quantify it any more than, say, a magazine like the
Radio Times can with its sales. So why should I be any more accountable
than a traditional media owner?’
Despite the disparity of views about ratecards, publishers and agencies
agree on one point: the value of advertising on the Internet at the
moment is not so much what it can achieve for the advertiser but the
ROUGH GUIDE TO AD RATES ON THE INTERNET
BBC Magazines: Top Gear
Approx pounds 5,000 a page
pounds 765 to pounds 3,535 for run-of-screen ad in traditional magazine
environment; price depends on location. Also offers a ‘virtual shop’
package out of the magazine environment.
pounds 25,000, including strip ads, research, links to advertisers’ own
sites and help in assembling the ads.
Prime site on home page: pounds 2,500 per week. Other spots on home
page: pounds 7,500 per month. Indices and news-in-brief pages: pounds
5,000 per month. Technology page and top story pages: pounds 2,500 per
Future Publishing: FutureNet
pounds 3,500 per month for front page. pounds 1,100 per month for home
pages in individual magazines. pounds 300 for sponsors’ index. pounds
2,000 for index to each magazine sector.
Guardian Media Group: Go2
Recruitment ads are free for Guardian OnLine advertisers. The group is
currently seeking partnerships with display advertisers. No ratecard.
IPC Magazines: Planet Science
Recruitment ads run free when booked in the New Scientist. pounds 4,000
per month for standard display ads.
Yearling Communications: Interactive TV Guide
pounds 1,000 to pounds 1,500 per week for banner ads, with hypertext
links to advertisers’ own sites.