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Calculating and comparing newspaper advertising costs can quickly get complicated. Once you’ve tracked down an advertising rate card in a newspaper, you’ll be faced with the delightful challenge of making sense of it all. There is no “one size fits all” that makes life easier for us. Instead, newspaper advertising costs depend on a number of factors, some of which may surprise you. To answer the question, “How much does it cost?”, The answer would be: “It all depends.”
8 factors that affect newspaper advertising costs (within a publication) are:
- Ad type
- removable gold section
- page position within a section
- left side VS right side
- color VS black and white
- annual spending / spending commitment
In this article, I will discuss the 8 factors that determine the costs of newspaper advertising in Australia. I will also provide an example of how much it would cost to place a display ad in The Courier Mail (a Queensland newspaper). As you will see, newspaper advertising costs can add up quickly. If you’re on a tight budget, like many of us these days, knowing what affects cost the most allows you to cut back what you can.
Ad type n. # 1: Display Ads, Classified Ads, Inserts
The first factor that decides the cost of a newspaper ad is the type of ad. Most Australian newspapers offer several different types. Display ads appear throughout the newspaper and may use fancy colors, illustrations, photos, or lettering to attract the reader’s attention. These provide great creative control over ad content, without being limited to just text. They are also not grouped based on classification, unlike classified ads. Display ads are typically charged at a rate per column centimeter. In other words, the height in centimeters and the width in columns determine the cost of the ad space. On the other hand, classifieds are generally charged by “lineage” or by line.
Another form of advertising offered by most major newspapers is “inserts” – separate advertisements that are placed within the newspaper and may be more than one page long. Inserts are generally charged at a rate of 1000 per number of pages. For the purposes of this article, we will limit our discussion to displaying advertisements.
# 2 Size matters
The second factor that contributes to the cost of newspaper advertising is size. As mentioned above, the costs of display ads are calculated based on their height in centimeters and their width in columns. Most newspapers have their own standard-size ad slots, in which your ad must fit. Some newspapers offer non-standard size spaces, such as a ‘U’ shaped ad around the edges of an open paper, but be prepared to pay a higher price for irregular sizes and shapes.
Let’s look at the standard sizes available from The Courier Mail, as an example.
- “Small page strip”, 6 cm high by 7 columns wide, the minimum informal cost per day (based on an informal weekday rate of $ AU58.51) is $ AU2457.42.
- “Medium Page Strip”, 8 cm high by 7 columns wide, the minimum informal cost per day is $ AU3276.56.
- “Quarter page strip”, 10 cm high by 7 columns wide, the minimum casual cost per day is $ AU4095.70.
- “Half horizontal page”, 20 cm high by 7 columns wide, the minimum informal cost per day is $ AU8191.40.
- “Full page”, 38 cm high by 7 columns wide, the minimum informal cost per day is $ AU15563.66.
- “Half page portrait”, 38 cm high by 4 columns wide, the minimum informal cost per day is $ AU8893.52.
- “Vertical third page”, 38 cm high by 3 columns wide, the minimum casual cost per day is $ AU6670.14.
- “Quarter page portrait”, 38 cm high by 2 columns wide, the minimum informal cost per day is $ AU4446.76.
- “Half page portrait”, 28 cm high by 5 columns wide, the minimum informal cost per day is $ AU8191.40.
- “Vertical third page”, 20 cm high by 4 columns wide, the minimum informal cost per day is $ AU4680.80.
- “Quarter-page portrait”, 20 cm high by 3 columns wide, the minimum informal cost per day is $ AU3510.60.
Here you can see that the cost of a standard size display ad can range from at least $ 2,457.42 per day for a small page strip to as low as $ 15,563.66 per day for a full page ad. It is a lot of money to invest in a single page, which will only be published one day. Most of us just don’t have that kind of money to spend, so you really need to know what you are doing. This example demonstrates how the size of a display ad affects the price.
# 3 day of the week
The third factor that contributes to the cost of a newspaper ad is the day of the week the ad is published. Generally, newspaper circulation is highest on weekends, so the advertising rates of major Australian newspapers are adjusted accordingly. In our example from The Courier Mail, rates are cheaper on a business day, higher on Saturdays, and higher on Sundays. For the most basic display ads, Saturday ads are 25% more expensive than Monday through Friday ads, and Sunday ads are almost 90% more expensive than Monday through Friday ads.
However, this pattern can vary, depending on the circulation of a particular publication. For example, The Age is more expensive on Saturdays. To illustrate the difference it makes, a small page strip ad in The Courier Mail on a business day would cost at least $ 2,457.42, and the exact same ad served on a Sunday would cost at least $ 4,637.64.
# 4 different sections or risers
Most newspapers are divided into different sections and many have removable items, and this is the fourth factor that determines newspaper advertising costs. Different sections attract different readers and different volumes of readers, so advertising rates are adjusted to reflect this. For example, an ad placed in The Courier Mail’s CareerOne elevator costs 2% more than the general section. CareerOne fees also vary by day of the week, as mentioned above. Some examples of other sections that may have different rates include: Adult Services, Funeral Notices, Real Estate, and Business.
# 5 Position of the page within a section
The next factor that can significantly affect the price of a newspaper ad is the page number on which the ad appears, within a given section. The most expensive part of the article is typically the front section, which can include the first 10 pages, and is known as “early general news” or EGN for short. In our example from The Courier Mail, page 2 of the EGN section attracts a 60% load. Similarly, the first 11 pages are at least 50% bookmarked. This type of upload is a common practice in Australian news publications. Now let’s say we want to place a small page strip ad in The Courier Mail on a business day, on page 3 in EGN, the cost would be at least $ 4054.74.
The first and last pages of other key sections of the document, such as Business, also attract a higher load. For The Courier Mail, the last page attracts a 65% profit margin. You can see how the page position of an ad can have a substantial influence on the price.
# 6 left side VS right side
The next factor is also related to the position of the ad, but it relates to the side of an open newspaper on which the ad appears. You may be surprised to know that in some publications, an ad that appears on the right side of an open paper will cost more than one that appears on the left side. This has to do with how readers actually read a newspaper and where their attention is focused. This factor can also be linked to an ad’s page position and what section it appears in. For example, in The Courier Mail, for ads on pages 12-21, an ad on the right side costs 5% more than an ad on the left side.
# 7 Color VS Black and White
Another factor that substantially affects the price of a newspaper ad is whether the ad features color and how many colors. Color ads are more expensive than monochrome or black and white ads. Some newspapers can distinguish between advertisements of various colors and those that have only one added color (called “spot color”). For example, The Courier Mail charges 30% more for multi-color display ads and 20% more for “direct” color display ads. Remember that this is combined with any positional load.
So let’s say we want our little full-color page strip ad in The Courier Mail on one business day, on page 3, which would be calculated as: $ 2457.42 + 30% color load = $ 3194.65 + 65% off positional load for page 3 = $ 5271.17
Here you can see how the cost of our ad has more than doubled after we’ve taken ad color and position into account.
# 8 Annual Spending / Spending Commitment
Now here’s a factor that also affects the price of your newspaper ad, but this time it’s a decrease, with a catch, of course. If you have the budget and you agree to spend a certain amount prepared annually, usually by entering into a 12-month contract, then you may be entitled to a discount. However, the discount depends on how much you are willing to spend. For example, to qualify for a 4% discount on The Courier Mail advertising rates, you must spend at least $ 38,500 per year. If you’re a small business owner, chances are you’re not working on this kind of budget, so say goodbye to discount.
In case you’re curious, businesses that spend at least $ 2.3 million annually with Courier Mail receive a 13% discount. In my opinion, this form of discount simply highlights how skewed mainstream advertising is towards large companies. Where’s the discount for all the struggling small businesses? But that is another story.
In short, again those 8 factors and how they will affect the cost of your ad:
- ad type – display VS classified VS inserts – rates based on different units of measure
- size: pay more for larger ads
- weekday – weekends are more expensive
- section or extraction: early general news (EGN) is more expensive
- page position within a section: covers and last ones cost more
- left side VS right side – RHS is more expensive
- color VS black and white – pay more for full color
- Annual Spending / Spending Commitment – Get a discount if you spend a lot
Now that you know what affects the price of a newspaper ad, you are better prepared to decide where and how you want to spend your advertising money. If newspaper advertising seems beyond your budget, then it may be worth considering more profitable alternatives, such as online advertising.