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Advertising sales revenue is the money publishers make from selling space in their titles.

Most publishers set aside printed pages or parts of printed pages for advertisers. The number of pages compared to the total number of pages in a publication is known in the business as the advertising ratio. Paid-for publications have a lower advertising ratio than free publications. Some free publications are nothing but advertising.

Advertisements fall into two categories:

  • Display advertisements are larger and more colourful – they can have highly creative text and images.
  • Classified advertisements are smaller and usually only text with a minimum of graphics.

Magazines typically sell display advertising by the page, although they offer double-page spreads, half pages and other formats.

Newspapers sell pages, but they also sell column centimetres (or column inches). Classifieds sell as column centimetres, as lines of text or in some cases by the word.

The more you buy the cheaper advertising gets

The more advertising an advertiser buys, the cheaper the rate per column centimetre (or page if they are buying magazine ads). So a full-page is cheaper than two half pages and so on.

Publishers offer advertisers discounts if they commit to buying a series of advertisements over a period such as a year or six months. So, booking a year’s worth of advertisements in a monthly magazine is cheaper than buying 12 single advertisements.

Some advertising positions attract a premium rate. On newspapers, this would be the front page and maybe the front pages of the internal sections. Magazines typically charge extra for the back cover and possibly the inside front cover. Successful titles can also get away with charging a premium for early right-hand pages or other attractive sites.

Agencies and commission

Advertising is often placed by specialist media buying companies who develop strategies for their clients and negotiate with publishers. These companies earn a commission. Typically this is between 10 to 20 percent of the booking’s value.

In return for a commission, media buying agencies contract to pay their invoices by a set date after publication – typically a month or so after the advertisements appear.

Advertisers who buy their own space are known as direct clients. They can haggle over prices, but unless they are large-scale buyers of advertising, they have less clout than agencies who can buy in bulk. It is often harder to collect money from direct clients than from agencies.

Rate cards

Publishers issue rate cards which show the prices or rates for each type of advertisement. Historically they were cards, but now they are usually available online, try Googling the term to see some. Rate cards prices are often, but not always negotiable. They also describe available advertising formats. Depending on circumstances rates shown on rate cards are negotiable.

When an advertiser or a buying agency buys advertising they are usually buying reach that is a publication’s ability to reach so many potential customers.


People in the business use the term advertorial when publishers offer advertising linked to editorial features, or in some cases when a publication’s editorial integrity itself is up for sale.

Advertorial deals come in many flavours. Many publications are more or less entirely made up of advertorial material – if an advertiser pays for space they are given a degree of say over what appears in the publication’s editorial content.

More credible titles wall off areas of content for advertorial projects. These might be clearly marked with terms like “advertising supplement” or “special advertising feature”, but it isn’t transparent to the reader.

Some publishers run editorial-style material provided by advertisers and charge for it. Others allow advertisers to send the copy for inclusion alongside paid advertisements.

Publishers may or may not allow advertisers to sign off on their advertorial content. Some publishers will have journalists write advertiser-friendly copy for these sections, others keep up a strict demarcation between editorial and advertising.

The advertising business model

As a rule, free publications are more likely to run advertorial and compromise editorial integrity for commercial consideration than paid-for titles. Paid titles are less likely to take this approach. Some paid titles have little in the way of advertising and charge a hefty premium for quality editorial content. This works best if they can manage a high circulation.

This is a look at the print publishing business model. It is a simplified description, but understand the big picture is more important than the details.


Historically print publishers earned revenue from copy sales and advertising. Some publishers, mainly in the trade press, rely solely on advertising.

Others, such as book publishers, rely solely on copy sales. Most newspapers and magazines make money from a mix of the two. Historically newspapers published in the UK would make almost all their monty from copy sales. In the rest of the world advertising is more important.

The balance between advertising and copy sales revenue usually determines a title’s editorial strategy. One important part of this is that when the money comes mainly from readers, then serving their interests is unquestionable. When money mainly comes from advertisers there is always a temptation to pander to their needs over reader needs.

The revenue part of a publication’s business model is simple:

Revenue = copy sales + advertising sales

Publishers who rely mainly on copy sales for their income typically spend more on producing quality editorial to attract readers.

Advertising-focused publishers put less emphasis on editorial. In extreme cases, they do away with editorial all together producing publications which closely resemble catalogues.

Not only did Australia’s two main print news media organisations reject Amazon’s Kindle book reader, both made their rejection public.

Fairfax went overboard, publishing versions of the story in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and on its youth-focused site, The Vine. The story didn’t run in The Australian Financial Review.

News Corporation has been less vocal, although Rupert Murdoch did mention his dissatisfaction with the Kindle reader in comments after his company’s annual results.

As this story in The Sydney Morning Herald explains, the problem is Amazon wants to clip the ticket by too much. Some reports suggest the company takes as much as 70 percent of the price of ebook sales and is seeking similar high margins from newspaper subscriptions.

Sony and Apple are possible alternatives. Apple charges 30 percent. One aspect of this story is the assumption people will want to read online newspapers via a special reader and not with a PC or smartphone.

Kindle Rejected By Australian Newspapers | Fairfax Media, News Corporation.

Canadian public relations practitioner Dave Fleet says Twitter has moved through the Gartner Hype Cycle. It is now at the point where it could quickly become unfashionable. In his  Five Potential Effects Of Twitter’s Shift To The Trough Of Disillusionment.  Fleet charts the technology’s progress and predicts what will happen next.

At first sight, Fleet’s analysis seems to be on the money. But there’s something else going on with Twitter. After a period of stability, the service is changing. Earlier this week the company altered the way users propagate messages. This changes the process known as retweeting.

In other words, Twitter is still evolving. It will probably be a different beast by the time it resumes its progress through the later stages of the Gartner Hype Cycle. Or maybe something else will replace it.