Advertising & Public Relations: Ad rates & ad schedules

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About advertising rates

Advertising rates, or, "how much does it cost to place an ad?"

Print media:

Finding ad rates for magazines and newspapers is relatively easy for many publications. The first stop, and often the last, will be SRDS Media Planning Platform (see "Ad rates -- the first stop" link in left margin) which has 'off-the-shelf' ad rates. These are a starting point, as a good media planner will doubtless do some negotiating. 

Some publications will also have some information about their ad rates on their websites.

Broadcast media:

For TV and radio, ad rates are not so easy to come by.  Because there are simply too many variables, broadcast ad rates are always negotiated.  Here are some of the variables: 

  • Time of day (daypart)
  • Length of spot
  • Number of repetitions
  • Size of the expected viewing/listening audience
  • Local vs. national audience
  • How close to airing time the purchase is negotiated

Estimating broadcast ad rates:

To get an idea of the likely range for broadcast media ad rates, a rough calculation you can use is this:

Estimated ad rate = cost-per-rating-point X audience measurement rating


For TV, the audience measurement rating is the Nielsen rating; for radio, it's the Arbitron rating.  So that presents you with two new quests:  finding the CPP (cost-per-rating-point), and finding the audience measurement rating.  See below for more information about these tasks. 

Finding the CPP  ♦  Finding TV ratings  ♦  Finding radio ratings

What else is on this page?

If all this seems like both more and less than you need to know, try some of the following:

About media planning

You may need to know more about the process of media planning and media buying overall.  The sites below will help you with learning about these processes.

Advertising schedules

One part of media planning is creating advertising schedules.  The Simmons OneView platform allows to you to create these schedules, though for print channels only. 

Here are some guides for using the Reach & Frequency module in Simmons:

Ad rates -- the first stop

For print media (magazines and newspapers), SRDS Media Solutions has 'off-the-shelf' ad rates (aka 'card rates'). By the way, in the rate tables, ti means the number of times an ad is placed (there's a discount for volume, of course).  MRI+ also has rates for some of the magazines (mostly consumer mags) it profiles.

For broadcast media (TV and radio), SRDS Media Solutions does not have actual ad rates (see discussion above).  But it does provide top-level (i.e. not detailed) CPP numbers from SQAD for metro areas (i.e. small cities will not have CPP numbers).  Click on the Market Profile link in the left-hand column to see this. (Please be aware that the SQAD Media Market Guide, listed in the box just below, has CPP numbers in far greater detail.)

Finding TV audience ratings

Try a search like nielsen and (rate or rating) to see if you can find a rating for the TV show you're interested in in the magazines and sites below.  This will work primarily for bigger name shows, or more popular shows.  (The first three links are to magazines; look for the "search within this publication links".)

WARNING: you will not find a comprehensive listing of ratings -- only the more noteworthy ratings get reported. For really local programming, you'll have to search in local newspapers!  Remember: you can ask for help with this!

Finding CPPs, estimated ad rates

Here are two books which can either give you estimated ad rate data (the Thumbnail Media Planner, for large metro areas), or give you detailed CPP numbers (SQAD), which will then allow you to calculate ad rates.

Finding radio audience ratings

Use StationRatings or RadioOnline to find Arbitron ratings for commercial stations.  (Registration is required for StationRatings, but it is free ... at least for now.)

Try a search on arbitron and (rate or rating) in the magazine linked below, Billboard. This will work best for larger stations and larger metro areas. 

What is Media Planning? (Slideshow)

This slideshow is more about how media planning has changed since the advent of the internet.  But regardless, it's interesting.  Some of this slideshow is also in this video of a talk by the author (this talk includes more). Warning:  he has a bit of an accent, either Scottish or northern England.  The author, John V Willshire, was the chief innovation officer at a big UK media agency, PHD UK, but now heads his own company, Smithery.com. 

Books about media planning

A subject search in Marqcat, the online catalog, for advertising media planning should be helpful.  Most will be located in Memorial Library on the fourth floor, upper level.

Here are two examples: