Wednesday, January 07, 2009
By HOLLY M. SANDERS and KEITH J. KELLY
The New York Times is shopping ad space on its once sacred front page for $75,000 on weekdays and $100,000 on Sundays, according to several ad buyers who asked to remain unnamed.
The Gray Lady finally made the decision to break with longstanding tradition and sell front page ads - starting with yesterday's edition - as it tries to cope with a serious ad slump and growing debt.
Most major papers, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, had already put ads on their front pages. (News Corp. owns both The Post and the Journal.)
TV network CBS was the first advertiser to take advantage of the prime placement - a two-and-a-half-inch deep horizontal strip across the bottom of the front page - in yesterday's paper.
"It's indicative of newspapers becoming more flexible," said George Janson, managing partner and director of print for Mediaedge:cia, an ad-buying firm.
The Times wouldn't disclose what it charges for the "below the fold" space.
"We don't publicize the rate any one advertiser pays," said Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis.
"Since we just started selling front-page ads, there is some inventory available."
The open rate for a national, black-and-white full-page ad is $140,000, although that varies depending on the ad category, the region and the volume of buying, buyers said.
Apparently, The Times is leveraging the front page space to get advertisers to increase their ad buys.
The paper is limiting the front page to big advertisers willing to spend more on top of their existing budgets.
A new advertiser who wants access to the space has to commit to buying the ad 26 times during the year - for a total of almost $2 million, ad buyers say. The Times has previously run classifieds on the front page.
In November, total ad revenue at the New York Times Co. fell 21 percent.
The paper's problems are exacerbated by more than $1 billion in debt.
It plans to sell or mortgage its headquarters to raise $225 million. The Times has also slashed its dividend by 75 percent, trimmed the size of its pages and laid off staff to save cash.