The Times group is going to announce their new rate card. It will be called Maximizer. The new tariff system will take effect from September 15, 2002. The new system promises to be substantially different from its predecessor. There will also be a rate-hike bundled into it. The hike comes close on the heals of a ‘new international look’ that shrunk the space for advertisers, and thus giving less for the same money. The savings accruing to the group on the newsprint costs, thanks to the shrunk space, is not insignificant. It is rumoured to be over 15% of their newsprint budget. In the newspaper business, newsprint accounts for, on an average, over 75% of the total costs.
Pradeep Guha, President at the Times Group, wasn’t in a mood to reveal much. He said, “The new rate card is going to be launched shortly. Master Mind - the current Rate Card, was launched in 1993-94. It’s been 8 years since and there is a definite need for a revised rate card, which is more customer friendly. Hence, the launch of the new more contemporary rate card - Maximizer. Maximizer is more contemporary; responds to markets more effectively; satisfies basic needs of media planners; built to create a lot more options for media planners; is more customer friendly.”
The rate-hike is likely to be close to 10-12% for the Black & White ads and about 20% for colour at the base rate for leading vehicles like ToI and ET. Relatively laggards like Maharashtra Times, Sandhya Times and Nav Bharat Times are likely to go up in single digit percentage, if at all. Magazines, owing to declining circulations, do not have much scope for a hike.
Mastermind, the current system, served the group very well. Not just the group, some feel it was instrumental in bringing to the marketplace a whole new way to sell. The earliest version of the Mastermind was unveiled in 1986. Those days, Delhi edition of ToI was but a distant second. Likewise, there were other not-so-hot media vehicles too in the group. Mastermind made Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Jaipur and Patna editions of ToI, Nav Bharat Times and Maharashtra Times reasonably cost-efficient add-ons.
Marketplace started off on a new vocabulary. The cheese came thinly disguised in the system of Solo, Multiple, Super, Slam,… Initially, what looked like a maze to the buyers and advertisers became a format that other media groups cloned. The ad-volume grew. Revenues also grew leaps and bounds. With over a thousand crores in total revenues, today, Times group has garnered, arguably, over a quarter of the ad-pie in the Print medium.
Maximizer seeks to move the cheese to a new location, as it were. The emphasis is not so much on adding on newer publications alone. It is likely to reward those who consume more space. So, the more insertions you buy, lesser the rate you’ll pay at. In jargonese, if Mastermind built ‘width’, Maximizer will build ‘depth’. Since, the information is not forthcoming, a bit of benign speculation is in order. The rate-card must address the issue of volume-incentive seriously. If it is based on a mere number of insertions, then someone placing 10 ads of ‘5x1’ will get a much lower rate than someone placing a half-page. That will be unfair. This is a reasonable fear because the “series-incentives” as they prevail in ToI city-supplements suffer from this lacuna. There is also a likelihood of linkages between the City-Supplements and the main edition but confined to the ‘national advertisers’ only. Retail-rate may still remain stand-alone. There is more but, it will be a wee bit unfair to steal all the thunder from a yet-to-be-launched move. So, one hopes it turns to be yet another masterstroke that its illustrious predecessor was.