How should a magazine charge for its online advertising?

Following on from the comedy of Youtube advertising revenues, I thought I'd share a story about advertising pricing on a smaller scale.

We have considered advertising Reputation Monitor, our online media monitoring tool in PR Week seeing as it can be useful for PR agencies to monitor blog buzz on behalf of their clients. We have come to the conclusion for the time being that advertising in the magazine will not be cost-effective because of the number of hurdles to get from a PR Week reader to Reputation Monitor subscriber (not least of which is getting them to type in a URL and visit our website).

With that thought in mind, we decided to see what it would cost to advertise on their website - given that this would remove one hurdle, as the viewer would already be online and hence only a click away from our site. I therefore asked them to send across as much information as they could about visitors to their website and their interaction with the adverts.

I assumed that if you were selling online advertising, you would want to provide potential advertisers with a host of information, not least:

- Unique visitors - Repeat visitors / number of visits per user / time to return - Time on site / page impressions other interaction data - Sources of traffic (including from natural search, by keyword) - Clickthrough rates of similar adverts and effectiveness case studies for other advertisers

It turns out that they couldn't supply me with very much of this data. I got unique visitors and total page impressions from a six month period (with no seasonality or trending). The only case study I got was a clickthrough rate of one advertiser and their total number of clicks. Perhaps I am expecting too much, but with 22 clicks in 2 weeks, I wasn't all that impressed.

Given that during our experiments with paid search advertising, we think we need to spend under 50p / click (when someone has searched for a highly relevant term), it seems unlikely that we would be able to afford to pay more for a contextual advert... Being generous then, we could possibly offer £25 / month for this advertising. It doesn't seem very likely that they'd be up for that considering the rate cards...

##Is all magazine advertising like this?

Has it never really been good value for money to advertise with magazines such as this? Is it only now, with the advent of greater tracking on the Internet that we are realising? Or is it simply that they need to price their online advertising very differently to their print advertising?

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About the author
Will Critchlow

Will Critchlow

Will founded Distilled with Duncan in 2005. Since then, he has consulted with some of the world’s largest organisations and most famous websites, spoken at most major industry events and regularly appeared in local and national press. For the...   read more