The Cost of Overpriced Rates for Newspaper Advertising

Chart from Comscore research published in June 2010.

I came across the above in a Clickz article on Mashable that argues the newspapers are killing themselves by charging unreasonably high ad rates. According to the Comscore data, newspapers charge three times the average CPM for online display banners. And print newspapers (at least back in 2008) charge three times the rate of broadcast TV ads running in primetime.

Lulled into complacency by decades (if not centuries) of dominating the advertising industry, they’ve failed to recognize that when it comes to advertiser value, they’ve long since fallen from the top spot. The advantages they once had based on geographic exclusivity, readership, and exclusive content have been eliminated by the rise of the web.

The article’s author, Sean Carton, also suggests that the quality of most newspapers has declined to the point that subscription paywalls feel like an insult. He liked reading the Baltimore Sun’s food blogs (ironically, the content that’s least expensive for the paper to create), especially the reader comments on those blogs (even more ironically, the content that costs the paper nothing), but after visiting for the 15th time this month, he was asked to pay for a subscription, so he went elsewhere.

Flipping through the Hartford Courant this morning at my mother-in-law’s, I was literally unable to find a single article of interest or general news-worthiness (except for a recap of UConn basketball game, which I can acknowledge is more interesting to most people than it is it me), so I ended up reading the back of the cereal box. As much as I love — in theory — local newspapers, it’s shocking that anyone is still paying for their print editions, let alone for the right to visit their websites.

  1. # Leigh Ann Kristiansen said: November 26th, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    I’ve own a small media buying agency specializing in print and have been in the newspaper business for over 20 years. I find that there isn’t really a standard rate for newspapers. I mostly work in classified placement nationwide, but I find that rates vary drastically from market to market. Rates are at the publishers discretion, so I’m not sure if making this type of comparison accurately is even possible on a national level.

  2. # Chas said: December 1st, 2011 at 11:08 am

    That’s a great point, Leigh Ann. And not just for newspaper prices (where the NY Times charges rates that are multiples of those charged at the Sacramento Bee) — the same goes online advertising categories. Advertisers pay a huge premium for ESPN versus a little-known sports blog.

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