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Janet Roberts

Why It's Hard to Compare Ad Rates
By Janet Roberts

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The 2002 Ezine-Tips newsletter advertising-rate survey is finished and will be announced in the next issue.

(This is one way to get you to open your email on Friday!)

Before it goes out, however, I wanted to share some introductory comments.

During the data-collection process, email guru Adam Boettiger sent me some comments on ad rates and comparisons that turned into a good lead-in to the survey:

"The problem in a nutshell is that when trying to establish rates, many ezine publishers try the cookie-cutter approach. What works for one probably will not work for all, so you're approaching this wrong if you are trying to determine an 'average' rate.

"We work with quite a few ezine properties on a rep agency basis. Some sell better on a CPM model. Others do quite fine on a flat-rate model. In the end, when all is said and done, it boils down to one thing: What is the perceived value of your ad inventory to potential advertisers? If an ad sale is $3,000, how you get to that amount (flat rate, CPM, bonuses, etc.) is much less important than just getting there.

"Folks spend far too much time on rates. At the end of the day, if the advertiser sees a perceived value for what you are charging, the deal will take place. If they don't see it, the deal won't happen.

"There are *many* things that you as a publisher could be doing to increase the perceived value of your ad inventory or your ezine to advertisers. If you don't take the time to increase the perceived value of sponsorship spots, then all you're stuck competing on rates alone, which is not a place where you want to be as a publisher."

I also asked Adam how a publisher can decide whether to charge according to circulation (cost per thousand subscribers, or CPM), a per-ad (flat) rate or a rate for a set amount of time.

"There really is not a rule about who does better," he said. "Often, it also depends on how the agency needs it. You may be giving them flat rate and they get their calculator out and convert it to CPM anyway so that it fits into their client's media plan and can be compared apples to apples with other buys in the plan. Like I said earlier, HOW you get to $3,000 is less important than just getting there."

Adam is president and founder of I-Advertising and works on a rep agency and consulting basis with selected properties. He moderates several discussion groups on online advertising and email issues. You can catch up with him at or

Ezine-Tips for November 21, 2002

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