What You Need to Know About Discounted Media Space

Discounted media space is often available when a medium cannot sell all their available ad space, and sometimes the discounts are quite deep. For the uninformed buyer, the rates offered are presented to be non-negotiable and discounted media space is never mentioned. Why would a sales rep, working on commission, offer a discounted rate first before trying to get full rate? They wouldn’t, of course, but many buyers don’t realize discounted media space is even something they can request.

Discounted ad space is usually sold with some limitations and many times, because there’s space available that the sales staff hasn’t been able to sell yet. So what do you need to know about buying discounted space? Here are a few questions to ask:

Will I be able to make changes to the ad if I buy discounted space?

Sometimes the answer to this question is a flat “no”. The buyer is receiving the discount because no additional production staff is utilized to create the ad, thereby saving the company money. Changes to the ad require reworking the ad, using production staff, and can negate the discount originally offered.

What happens if I decide to cancel before I’ve fulfilled my contractual commitment?

Most print mediums impose a penalty for contractual agreements cancelled before fulfillment of all terms. In print, these are often called “short rates”. When an advertiser agrees to publish an ad schedule for a specific time period, the medium extends the discounted rate from the first ad published through the last, with the assumption the advertiser will fulfill the terms of the contract. A short rate refers to charging back the buyer for all ad space published at the rate they actually earned, instead of what was published.

To make it simple, if a buyer agrees to advertise for a year but only advertises for three months, the rate per ad is recalculated at the three month rate instead of the yearly rate the buyer has been paying for the ads, since they didn’t fulfill the contract. Terms are spelled out in the contract agreement the buyer signs, and penalties for non-fulfillment of the contract are outlined clearly. If the terms aren’t clear, ask the question during negotiation.

Do I have any control over where ads are placed, or how often, if I buy ads in bulk as “fillers”?

Most of the time, the answer to this question is “no” – the medium places ads at will, where they’re needed, to fill the space on a page. Generally, they won’t place multiple ads for the same advertiser on the same page but they may place them on facing pages without hesitation, and the advertiser usually doesn’t have any say in placement for these type of ads.

Filler ads are often purchased in increments of 50 or 100 insertions, to be used over a specific time period, such as a three-month period. Just because the buyer has agreed to use these filler ads over a three-month time period, they may experience slow ad space sales, and use the filler ads in one month instead of three.

The media isn’t really interested in too many one-time advertisers because of the number of employees required to complete the process and the production costs involved. Discounted ad space is offered as an incentive to the buyer for making the medium’s workload lighter.