Revealed: Rate Cards Show UK News Sites’ Bulls And Beggars

What price do online newspapers put on their head? The amounts publishers charge advertisers indicates their bullishness about their business worth. So I have compiled and compared the costs per thousand (CPM) impressions charged by UK national newspapers’ websites in their rate cards…

Of course, actual ad rates often vary significantly from rate cards, especially as ad exchanges’ influence grows. Card prices are often inflated and are frequently discounted by 25 to 90 percent, according to one industry executive. But these figures nevertheless yield three broad takeaways…

1. Traffic doesn’t correlate with ad rate

Guardian.co.uk charges advertisers the most – considerably more than the news site with most users, Mail Online.

Even Independent.co.uk, which ranks fifth in the sector for traffic with an audience just 15 percent the size of Mail Online’s, has higher rates. It charges almost double Mail Online’s rate for two of the four main ad formats (though the other two are similar).

This may account for Mail Online’s relatively low income, which was the lion’s share of £19 million in 2011, compared with Guardian.co.uk revenue, for example, that was pushing £40 million. Mail Online’s push for audience scale, however, will help it make up the difference.

2. The Times charges more from less

Since introducing web fees in mid-2010, News International’s The Times sells only two ad types – MPU and double MPU.

It has previously claimed the “paywall” allows The Times to charge higher prices because it has ringfenced its high-value, paying readers. But The Times’ MPU CPM is half the rate of Guardian.co.uk’s and cheaper than Independent.co.uk’s.

Nevertheless, it’s pricer than the majority of the market, including Telegraph.co.uk, and the double MPU format is a high-priced slot.

3. There’s money in the niche

It is important to note that the above prices are for standard “run of site” ads and not for expandable formats or for ads sold in to specific site sections. For the latter, publishers charge a premium because those ads naturally reach more specific audience types.

Although The Telegraph’s prices look lowly here in comparison, it tells paidContent only 6.3 percent of its ads were run-of-site display in 2011. It mostly sells ads instead in to its numerous these special-interest sections, whose banner CPM prices start at a much higher £20 and top out at £24.

General-interest news is, quite literally, less valuable than the specific. The Telegraph’s £14 banner CPM for news and sport categories is well cheaper than for sections like gardening (£22) and fashion (£24).

See a fuller comparison of more run-of-site advertising formats, including mobile and video, below…

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