Is Monster with Philly or Agin’ Her?

monsterguy.gifThe classifieds biz continues to ebb and flow, and offline media firms are starting to align with online classifieds firms in an effort to save the ad revenue they’ve long relied upon. As featured in my piece yesterday on this issue, Monster.com shut out CareerBuilder in its new deal to power classifieds on Philadelphia Media Holdings paper sites.

By way of PaidContent, and SeekingAlpha’s transcript of Monster’s Q2 earnings call, President of Monster North America Doug Klinger shed some light on the duration of the Philly deal, noting, “This relationship is a long-term relationship and a pretty significant opportunity for us to overnight significantly expand our market share and, over the short term as well as long term, dramatically increase our branding presence in the Philadelphia metro area….I think the way to look at this kind of an opportunity for us is a way to reach the market, another distribution channel.

CEO Andy McKelvey had some eyebrow-raising words during the call:

Peter Appert – Goldman Sachs:
You know, Andy, you’ve got this love of the newspaper industry that you’ve expressed over the years, so I’m inspired by this deal you’re doing with the folks in Philly. The question is, how important is this move? How strategic is it for you? How hard are you going to push to grow this channel? How big could this opportunity be for you?

Andy McKelvey:
You notice that we have talked about the newspapers in the past. It’s very difficult to answer the question. It’s kind of like we’re putting our toe in the water and we will see what happens. Today one newspaper is not strategic at all, but we know we’re going to increase our market share substantially in Philadelphia, in the local marketplace, so we want to see what that means in terms of market share, what that means in terms of financial. Also, what, if any, additional promotional value can the enquiry give us?

So it’s really the beginning of the beginning and we felt we would be remiss if we didn’t work with a newspaper to see what kind of potential this might offer. It hasn’t shifted overall. What we’re doing is taking business away from the newspapers and that strategy certainly hasn’t changed. So Philadelphia is kind of on its own and let’s see what happens over the next six to 12 months. That’s about the best I can answer.

So, considering the “Philadelphia is kind of on its own” comment, one wonders whether newspapers and their online classifieds partners are truly collaborating after all…

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