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May 18, 2015updated 23 May 2015 1:37am

Digital breakthrough: Times advertisers agree to pay same rate for tablet edition as print

By Dominic Ponsford

Times advertisers are to begin paying the same rate for display advertising in the title's tablet edition as they do in print.

The agreement, reached with a number of key ad agencies, is being seen by insiders as a major breakthrough in terms of making money from digital journalism.

Website advertising is typically offered at a fraction the price of print. Advertising rates on page-turning tablet editions have also so far lagged behind.

The move to increase the price charged for tablet ads follows neuroscience research by News UK last year (tracking eye-ball movement and brain activity) which the company said proved tablet edition ads are at least as effective as the print equivalent.

This has now been backed up by a further piece of research called Project Footprint which closely tracked the online and offline activities of 70 digital subscribers to The Times and Sunday Times. It claims to show evidence of the relationship between readers looking at branded ads on the tablet edition, mentioning brands in conversations, searching online and purchasing products.

News UK commercial managing director Paul Hayes told Press Gazette: “It’s the best research we’ve done in years. Our proposition is that we have an engaged audience. You can get The Times audience or The Sun audience anywhere, but you won’t get them in the context of consuming The Times or The Sun – to get that you have to come through us.

“They are at their most engaged and attentive when they are consuming our content.”

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He said that the average time spent on The Sunday Times tablet app last week was 67 minutes and that the average “dwell time” on The Times app is now around 45 minutes. This compares favourably with print.

Hayes said he has also been encouraged by the fact that ad spend with News UK from the the “digital ecosystem” – companies such as Ebay, Amazon and Netflix – has doubled in the last 12 months and now runs into the "several millions" annually.

He said: “We believe that if we can demonstrate the behaviour of the tablet consumers are exactly same, if not enhanced, versus the print consumer than we should charge advertisers exactly the same.”

The Times has an ABC print circulation of 393,826, with a further 76,368 daily tablet readers. The Sunday Times is 808,652 in print, and 94,122 on tablets.

The cost-per-thousand advertising rate is now the same across tablet and print, with a reduction to allow for duplication (the fact some readers switch between tablet and print).

Hayes said: “You can find a Times reader on more than 40 different databases. You can advertise to a Times reader via Candy Crush if you want to, but you can only reach them in the context of reading The Times through us.

“When they are reading The Times they are more engaged with the content, more likely to use search and more likely to take an action. They are four times more likely than the average person to be on Google.

“A lot of this is common sense, but in today’s world common sense has to be backed up by really good research.”

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