Are publishers using full-colour ad slots to ramp up their rates?

The volume of full-colour ads traded by newspapers is growing, for some publishers by more than 10% year on year. But are the growing colour rate rises justified?

NO - Paul Thomas, investment director, MindShare

Over the past 10 years, there has been a growing demand for more colour ads from clients. In fact, most newspapers have been turning away colour advertising on certain days of the week, because they have been unable to meet demand.

Such under-capacity for colour ads is what has driven almost all newspapers to move to full-colour presses. It would be fair to say that it is in their interests to do so because colour ads are more profitable.

Clearly, newspaper publishers will try to move mono advertisers to colour, but they risk losing some clients by doing so.

As with all markets, it is the supply and demand of any given product that dictates the price and while the newspaper publishers will try to control the price of colour ads by issue sizes and availability, the advertising market will ultimately dictate colour press ad rates.

YES - Roddy Button, media director, The Marketing Agency

It's the 21st Century, for goodness sake, and it's about time that newspapers extricated themselves from their 20th Century "letterpress" mindset and hauled themselves into current times.

No, you are not a superior medium, you are equal - if you're lucky - with every other competing advertising medium out there, so pull your heads out of your backsides and compete.

Some newspapers' colour rate premiums are outrageous and I also get very annoyed when I find out, all too often, that many agencies don't seem to have the nous, or experience, to realise that they're being ripped off and agree to inflated colour rates, which simply exacerbates the situation.

We need, collectively, to make a stand against certain newspapers and force them to reduce colour rates to acceptable levels. More agencies need to wise up and get a better deal for their clients.

YES - Jo Blake, head of press, BLM

Yes, part of newspapers' argument for higher prices is that generally their colour revenues are up and so they need to maintain this.

Just looking at that one revenue figure does not tell the whole story, so to the inexperienced buyer it looks like the colour marketplace is more buoyant that it actually is.

Buyers need to be looking at the whole picture, including the volume of ads being taken, pagination and revenue figures in order to really get under the skin of the current colour press ad marketplace.

In reality, certain titles are struggling to fill colour space and there is an abundance of deals to be had for those who understand that and play the short-term market accordingly.

NO - Anthony Gibson-Watt, buying director, Zed

Not in this market anyway. We are in a buyer's market and this is likely to continue for another 18 months as the UK rides out a potential recession. On the back of this, most national press titles are also experiencing a steady decline in circulation.

Media owners are not in a position to pass rate increases on to their agencies. Even some of the big players are chasing as much business as possible, and in that situation they can hardly demand a colour yield increase.

However, for most titles, colour demand is increasing, as mono demand subsides, so as soon as the market recovers, media owners will be looking to increase yield. They will have to cope with an even more mature digital marketplace eager to steal those print budgets. Those that offer both print and digital solutions will be clear winners.

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