Fresh from yesterday’s tongue-in-cheek press ad, The Times has announced that it will be the first national to offer free advertising in its iPad edition as part of a package when paid-for space is booked in print.

The trial, which is expected to include John Lewis, will offer brands free static ads in what The Times has referred to as ‘one sell’.

This move comes in the middle of a price showdown between the leading British newspapers. 

Yesterday, in response to the Telegraph’s price increase to £1.20 (a similar move was also made by The Guardian recently), the Times ran a press ad with the text, “Monday to Friday. The Times is just  £1 per day. That’s 20p cheaper than The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian”.

The ‘one sell’ concept seems to continue an attempt to set The Times apart from its rivals; The Daily Mail sells its print and digital ads separately whereas The Guardian also offers a bundle – but not free of charge.

Dominic Carter, commercial director of News International Commercial, said in a statement this morning that the tablet in its many forms has the capability to revolutionise the way we consume and publish news: “However the nature of mobile publishing means that we need to plan for multiple screen sizes and different means of interaction.”

Mark Slade, managing director of mobile advertising network 4th Screen Advertising, told us that the market for print advertising is bigger than mobile, so it’s easier to source budget. “That said, mobile advertising also needs to maintain its own place on a media plan and not be given as a value ad from other media channels.”

He explained that when iPad formats become fully interactive, you could then argue for charging a premium: “Volumes of iPad inventory are still very small so it’s difficult to have separate creative builds with specific media spend. But all this will change as we hit scale.”