Fairfax defends retaining broadsheet ad rates for compact size

Fairfax defends retaining broadsheet ad rates for compact size
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Fairfax has released the first public images of how its flagship mastheads will look when they turn to compact size on March 4.

Ad rates for the new sizes would remain the same as they are in the broadsheet format, with "world first" neuro research suggesting the units are 22% more engaging than the current offering.

Sarah Keith, director of advertising strategy, said eye tracking had also been used to test the effectiveness of the new ad units amongst current readers, and non-readers.

She defended the decision saying: “When we did the eye tracking we found advertising was 50% more engaging in the compact than the broadsheet.

“When people are purchasing from us they’re purchasing the environment, and that remains strong.”

Commercial director Ed Harrison said the extensive research had been vital in finalising the look and feel of the new products.

He added: "we are catering to customers’ needs. In the past a lot of product decisions were made from the gut, but we've given a lot of consideration to the product development process.

“We've gone through a lot of product development processes to get to this stage, and we think it’s going to go down really well with the consumers."

The publisher expects circulations to increase in the first few days of the new format coming out, citing the similar conversion of the New Zealand Herald, which saw a 30% sales rise in its first week of going compact.

However, they admitted they expect the uplift to drop off quickly, stabilising at a 2-5% circulation uplift.

The overhauled The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age will retain their "tone", but editor-in-chief Garry Linnell said staff had been to "Journalism 101" courses to teach them how to write in a compact style.

He said there would be the same number of stories each day, but they would be shorter, with longer "yarns" serialised over several days.

“What we heard from the research was one of two things. The first was ‘what took you so long’ and the second was ‘the tone can’t change’”, he said.

“The T-word is not being used as it’s reminiscent of changing your tone.”

However, the Benton type synonymous with the titles has been increased in size by 10%.

The Metro section of the SMH and the EG section in The Age have been replaced by a new Shortlist supplement, with a new section called Pulse dealing with health and lifestyle also set to be launched.

Sport will be on the back page of both, with business a self-contained section in the centre of the papers.

The number of standard ad units available has also been slashed to 14, after 196 different types were sold last year, although Keith said other executions could be arranged.

She added the new system had been devised around agencies to simplify and streamline the booking system, with an electronic solution being phased in.

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