How to Create a Rate Card

If you’re trying to sell ads for a website you own, you may have been asked to provide potential advertisers with a rate card. If you’re not sure what that refers to or how to create one, you’re in the right place. This guide will walk you through the basics of a rate card, including how to create one and tips for using it correctly.

(Sign up for the MonetizePros free email newsletter for more ad sales and other Web monetization tips.)

What Is a Rate Card?

A rate card is a basic document that shows how much it costs to advertise on your site. It’s usually no longer than a single page (and often times is simply a table with no more than a few rows and a few columns).

It’s used by potential advertisers and/or their agencies as a “cheat sheet” of sorts so that they’re able to easily figure out how much you charge. Think of it as items on a menu that they construct in order to reference their ad options; when it comes time to plan a campaign, they’ll be able to easily see and compare their options.

How to Make One

It seems like a simple request, but it can be a challenge if you don’t have one ready to go. Have no fear: assembling a rate card is simple. Below is a step-by-step (or, more appropriately, a column-by-column) guide for assembling this piece of your ad sales arsenal.

Placement Description

It may sound obvious, but your rate card should clearly identify each ad unit that an advertiser could potentially buy. This can be summarized in just one column or split out among multiple columns such as:

  • Ad Unit Description
  • Placement (i.e., position on the page)
  • Dimensions of the ad unit

Rate and Pricing Method

Your rate card should specify what method you’re using to price the inventory. In other words, don’t simply put a dollar amount; you’ll also want to specify if that dollar amount specifies the cost of 1,000 impressions (CPM), the price to take over the unit for a day (CPD), or another methodology such as the cost of a click (CPC).

Believe it or not, that’s it. As mentioned above, a rate card is a simple document; it should be short and sweet. If you’re not convinced, check out some of the examples we have below.

Some sites include a rate card as part of a larger media kit (for example, as the final page in that document). Some have it freely available on their site, while others prefer to provide it only when asked. There’s no perfect strategy here; if you want to keep things simple, throw your rate card in as a part of the media kit or as a separate document on the “Advertise” section of your site. If you’d prefer to force potential advertisers to interact with you directly, make a note that it’s available upon request.

Rate Card Discount

A relatively common practice is to put amounts on a rate card that are higher than what you actually plan to charge. You’ll then be able to offer a discount to this stated rate card price when filling out a proposal, thereby enhancing the perceived value. This is similar to what many grocery stores do; they’ll increase the prices of basic items, and then promote it at a “special rate” if you use a membership card.

More Examples

If you’re still confused about what this document is supposed to contain, it may be helpful to take a look at a few samples. Below are links to actual rate cards maintained by online properties:

Here’s our own example of how a rate card may be presented, in this case for a site with only a few standard ad units:

Ad Unit Size Placement Price
Leaderboard 728×90 Above the Fold $10 CPM
Rectangle 300×250 Below the Fold $5 CPM
Site Takeover 728×90, 300×250 All ad units on site $5,000 / day
Skinned Home Page Custom Home page $12,500 / week
Sponsored Email Custom Banner within email $2,000 flat fee
Text Link Ad Up to 80 characters Above the Fold $5 CPC

Bottom Line

Creating a rate card may seem like a major production, but it’s actually very straightforward. Moreover, it’s an important document that every site should have; it will make you seem more professional and organized to interested advertisers. It should take you no longer than an hour or so to have a polished version ready to go; hopefully the tips and examples above help in the process.


  • Tim Shorten says:

    Can anyone recommend a software solution that delivers rate card functionality and templates?

  • Samuel Ade says:

    Hello, what tool exactly, did you use in creating the AD rate?

  • Sheree McKee says:

    I agree, very helpful for creating my first rate card.

  • Kathy Kenny Ngo says:

    Thank you so much for this. AWESOME POST. This is exactly what I wanted to find when I was looking for rate card samples.

  • >