Waitrose seeks premium ad rates

Supermarket chain Waitrose is demanding premium rates as it begins to accept third-party advertising on its Website, despite offering a modest audience of 35,000 online customers and just 22,000 subscribers to its free Internet service.

Marketing director Mark Price says the aggressive pricing strategy is justified by the premium audience Waitrose’s online services deliver.

Ad sales staff plan to sell to food brands and financial service groups at £32 per 1,000 impressions for exclusive sponsorship deals, dropping to £25 cost per thousand with standard banner ads. “And we intend to sell close to ratecard, unlike many sites out there,” says Price.

John Brown Publishing is handling ad sales on the Waitrose.com site, and is responsible for in-house magazine Waitrose Food Illustrated.

The supermarket chain, owned by the John Lewis Partnership, operates an online grocery shopping service that delivers to qualifying workplaces as opposed to providing full-blown home delivery. Despite the Waitrose site’s relatively small audience, Price says more offices are scheduled to join the “Waitrose at work” scheme this month, taking the number of employees capable of using the service to 60,000.

Waitrose is also rolling out a range of specialist home-delivery services for wines, flowers and organic goods, with a further six niche online service launches planned in the next six to eight months.

“We are providing advertisers with a captive market of affluent and educated customers,” says Price. “Our online customers are undoubtedly skewed towards the top end of the market.”

He claims delivering groceries to workplaces is far more efficient than the home delivery services being pioneered by Tesco and other rivals.

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