Digital editions have been positioned as value-added for so long that first attempts at developing an advertising rate card can leave publishers at a loss.
Some publishers don’t charge for ads but do charge for extra features (including making ad links live, something some digital vendors frown at). “It is very rare we will offer advertising in a digital edition only,” says Graduate Prospects sales director Allan Brown. “If the paper product is the lead we tend to add in the digital as part of the package at no cost (added value) for a straight replica of the ad. Then we up-sell features in the digital edition such as animation.”
When digital editions are the lead, Brown says he can charge higher rates for that than other online products.
ITEM Publications’ Interference Technology has several digital editions for the Asian market. All ads from the print product are featured in the digital edition but only those advertisers paying a 12 percent optional premium of the print are included in search results and receive reader tracking.
Charging on a CPM basis is risky, since digital editions typically have fewer readers than Web sites (although vendors claim readers are more engaged). When skateboard title SLAP went all digital, the publisher tried to get print advertisers to commit to spending the same monthly ad dollars based on a industry standard, impression-based CPM. “We had a huge amount of Web traffic already in place that easily ate up all those impressions,” wrote group creative director Kevin Convertito on FOLIO:’s mediaPRO social network earlier this year. “If you don’t already have a Web presence and active community, you probably can’t afford to go that route.”
Pricing can also depend on the digital format, such as the flip-page style or a vertical scrolling HTML. “For high-traffic, HTML-based sites, you could sell a combo of impression-based, click-through, and time-based sponsored rates, but for smaller, niche stuff in the page-flip format you’d probably do better to try and sell added value like active links and embedded video for much higher CPMs,” Convertito added.