Publisher Ad Practices

By | Friday, December 14, 2007 Leave a Comment
I got books today from several different publishers and noticed some substantial differences in the number and placement of ads they ran. The point of ads, for those who don't know, is to offset the cost of publishing. The publisher can defray some of their costs by charging what's effectively rent within the pages of their comic. But what struck me is that I'm looking at four different publishers charging the same price for what's essentially the same product, and yet they have distinctly different ad practices.
  • Fantastic Four #552 from marvel. Full page ads on the inside front cover; pages 5, 9, 16-17, 19, 21, 23, 25, and 29; the inside back cover; and the outside back cover.
  • Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #3 from DC. Full page ads on the inside front cover; pages 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, 18, 20, 23, 28; the inside back cover; and the outside back cover. Six of those are house ads for other DC comics. Additionally, page 32 is an editorial page which does some more promotion.
  • Abyss #2 from Red 5. Full page ads on pages 25, 28-32; the inside back cover; and the outside back cover. Four of those are house ads for other Red 5 comics.
  • Pirates of Coney Island #6 from Image. Full page ads on pages 31-32, the inside back cover, and the outside back cover. Pages 29-30 are letters pages with some promotion of the next issue.
DC and marvel tie for the most ads per issue, although marvel is almost certainly generating more revenue since half of DC's ads are for their own material. Both of them are certainly making more than Image or Red 5 both in terms of volume and, likely, higher rates.

I've got no problems with ads conceptually. I'm willing to deal with them if that means I don't have to pay as much for my entertainment. But since I'm paying the same for all four books (technically, Abyss is four cents cheaper than the other three), and the Image and Red 5 books are on higher quality paper, and they have fewer ads -- none of which interrupt the story... well, that doesn't exactly feel like I'm getting as much bang for buck with the marvel and DC books.

That aside, I think it's also worth noting that marvel's ads are heavier towards the back of the book interrupting the story as the reader gets closer to the (theoretically, more exciting) climax. DC front-loads their ads, so you have fewer bumps towards the end of the story. I'm not sure who exactly lays out a company's ad plan, but I appreciate DC's focus on "not hampering the story too much" over marvel's "more likely to catch my attention as I become more invested in the story" approach. To be fair, most television programming uses that same tactic -- but then again, I'm definitely not a big fan of television.
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