Email newsletters are a big hit amongst publishers. They generate big ad dollars and further engage audiences. While the term “win-win situation” is rather cringe-worthy, writes Mirabel Technologies’ Christie Calahan, it is actually the perfect way to describe them.
Unlike print, results can be quantified, and they are typically easier to design than print products.
From specialty subjects to breaking news, there can be an e-newsletter for just about any subject. While publishers can come up with dozens of topics, managing more than two e-newsletters can quickly become cumbersome – especially if your content deploys daily.
Therefore, let’s be clear. The last thing you want is a spreadsheet mess of ad units for different e-newsletters. Aside from inviting room for error, it’s hard to get a precise idea of inventory – which is essentially leaving money on the table.
How Publishers Typically Sell E-Newsletter Inventory
Unlike web ads, which are generally sold on a CPM, cost-per-click, or cost per engagement basis, e-newsletter units generally have a fixed unit price. Yes, there are publishers who serve newsletter ads dynamically, but we are not talking about any “Movable Ink” or complex personalisation territory.
Since most publishers sell e-newsletter ads as static units (ie. inventory won’t change when opening the email), they typically have prices based on the list size and average open rates. For example, if you have 100,000 subscribers on an e-newsletter list and your average open rate is 20%, you might charge £1,000 for an ad unit based on a CPM of £50.
Generally speaking, list sizes and open rates do not change dramatically because opt-outs balance out list growth. Nevertheless, smart advertisers will often ask you for metrics and will probably demand make-goods if the open-rate and list size drop significantly.
What About “Bonus” Impressions?
Will the advertiser give you more money if the e-newsletter over-delivers on impressions? Ha! Yeah, right. Now that is funny! Other than a happy advertiser, you get absolutely nothing, so it pays to be “optimistic” about open rates when configuring pricing.
What Else Impacts E-Newsletter Ad Pricing?
The CPM used to calculate fixed e-newsletter ad rates will often depend on unit size, placement, and competitive share of voice. For example, larger units above the fold will obviously cost more than the standard box ad (300x250), and fewer ads warrant higher prices, especially if it has competitive exclusivity (eg. only restaurant advertising).
However, your dedicated/branded emails will probably be your most expensive e-newsletter unit as it is a giant ad disguised as content (tastefully, of course!). Or, you could have just one dominant ad that looks like a full-page takeover, which is one step away from branded content.
Native content also warrants higher rates – especially if you write it (a nice marketing services up-charge!). And lastly, any data about who clicks on an ad is worth a pretty penny, but you may not get away with this legally outside of America.
Typical E-Newsletter Buys
Just like print buys, most advertisers buy a handful of them, and they are often part of a bigger multimedia package (which makes billing really FUN). If the newsletter deploys daily, an advertiser might purchase a unit for a whole week. Or, the advertiser may pick specific deployment days, such as Tuesdays and Thursdays for “x” number of weeks or months.
How to Manage E-Newsletters in Your Publishing CRM
Since most e-newsletters have a standard template, you probably have a fixed number of ad units. If you over-sell email ads, it’s a great problem to have. Most publishers would rather adjust their template than use house ads for unsold inventory.
That being said, e-newsletters are essentially mini magazines; you can set them up in your CRM just like print products. The e-newsletter topic becomes your product title (eg. Weekend Entertainment) and your issue dates become your email deployment dates, which means you can use the same reports for both media vehicles.
For example, you can see available inventory in a production run sheet, or missing advertisers in your issue-to-issue comparison report. And you can still convert e-newsletter ad orders into neat little invoices. Perhaps the only hurdle to managing e-newsletter ads is if your client wants you to break out line items for a bulk multimedia contract with equal payments. If that’s the case, get ready to put the FUN back in billing dysfunction! But don’t worry. A good publishing CRM can solve this problem too; it’s just a whole other topic!
“Your dedicated/branded emails will probably be your most expensive
e-newsletter unit as it is a giant ad disguised as content (tastefully, of