Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Advertisers Are Spared Sticker Shock This Year

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Advertisers Are Spared Sticker Shock This Year

Article excerpt

But papers still get mixed reactions to their newly proposed rate hikes: They're 'modest.' They're 'insane.'

In negotiating advertising contracts for the new year, newspapers are seeking smaller rate hikes than in the past, reflecting the reality of current economic conditions.

"So far, rate-card increases have been modest, more modest than I had anticipated," said S. Scott Harding, chairman and CEO of Newspaper Services of America (NSA), the Downers Grove, Ill.-based buyer that reports it places more than $1.6 billion of newspaper advertising for its clients annually. The boost is "still more, frankly, than a number of other media. But this is, in general, not as aggressive as we would have thought." The typical newspaper is asking for hikes of 3% to 4% for retail run-of-press (ROP) advertising, 5% to 6% for national ROP, and 2% to 3% for inserts, Harding said, adding that most of his bigger newspaper advertisers will be pleased with the rates he is negotiating.

One satisfied advertiser is Sears, Roebuck and Co., the Hoffmann Estates, Ill.-based retailer. Ranked as No. 6 among the E&P/Competitive Media Reporting "Top 100 Brand Advertisers in Newspapers" in 2000, Sears has more clout than most and came to the negotiating table looking for flat rates this year -- and, for the most part, prevailed, said Bill Block, Sears manager for media planning. "Obviously, it's a changing environment in the newspaper industry," Block said. "Overall, they've responded pretty well."

Even the smallest increase, though, is too great for some ad buyers.

"Most of the major metros are getting 5% to 7% [contracted rate increases], which, to be honest with you, in these times, is just a little bit insane," said Ed Weiner, senior partner with New York-based media buyer Media First International Inc.

Although the increases vary widely from market to market -- as newspapers bear in mind the economic pressure now on advertisers -- Steven N. …

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