Taking Cue from Web, ‘Boston Globe’ to Auction Prime Sunday Ad Spot

By: Jennifer Saba

Taking a page from Web sites like Google, The Boston Globe announced today that it has started auctioning off the front half-page ad in its Sunday recruitment section.

Bids for the ads, which can be placed at Bostonworks.com, start at $15,000 and rise in increments of $500. Before the auction model was initiated, the space sold for $39,500.

“Historically, newspapers set the rate, but we’re taking the best of the Internet and applying it to print,” said Tim Murphy, general manager of BostonWorks, the print and online recruitment division of the Globe.

Murphy launched the initiative, originally covered in last week’s Classified Intelligence Report, for two reasons. First, he thinks the paper can pull in more money with a dynamic pricing model. Under the old strategy, sometimes the paper would run a house ad; occasionally, they would sell below rate card.

With the auction, advertisers can place bids a few weeks in advance and, if they choose, stop the process by agreeing to pay $39,500. The auction ends at 5 p.m. on the Wednesday before the ad runs.

But more important, Murphy explains, is that newspapers have to start trying new models in order to compete. “Newspapers need to start playing the media games instead of hoping that the good days will be back.”

For now, Murphy and his team are bringing the concept to media agencies that typically handle larger accounts. “It’s such a great position, we were constraining ourselves with a set price,” he said.

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