Knight Ridder New Media Upgrades Real Cities Classifieds Technology

Knight Ridder New Media delivered a new generation of Web classifieds software designed to improve the presentation and searchability of classified ads for visitors to its Real Cities network.

The new software is designed to automatically identify database attributes, such as the number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms and the price of a house, from text classified ads. This results in fast, accurate searches of one newspaper or all Real Cities Web classifieds coast-to-coast, the company said.

Real Cities said its classifieds software will also allow advertisers to buy both print classified and Web classified ads online without having to call an ad representative. The program allows advertisers to include photographs, video and audio at the time they create their ads.

“Real Cities classifieds sets a new standard for publishing newspaper classified databases on the Web,” said Chris Jennewein, vice president of technology and operations for Knight Ridder New Media. “Instead of simply reproducing the typically terse text of classified ads, Real Cities classifieds extracts key attributes so that users can quickly find what they’re looking for.”

Knight Ridder New Media developed the classifieds software using the ObjectStore database from Object Design Inc. and the NetOwl natural language indexing engine from IsoQuest Inc.

Sellers will be able to place an ad by clicking on the “advertise” icon, filling out a form and paying by credit card, the firm said. Individuals who do not wish to use a credit card will be able to set up a billing account online.

Object Design’s ObjectStore is a flexible database that lets individual newspaper sites customize their online classifieds “look and feel” without compromising the system performance or engaging in a long development process.

IsoQuest’s NetOwl is an ad parsing software that converts the raw text of classifieds into a structured format for database access. The IsoQuest engine understands the abbreviations and other language conventions of newspaper classifieds and can infer additional information from the way an ad is worded.

The initial deployment of Real Cities classifieds will be seen on the Web sites of three Knight Ridder California newspapers: the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and SLO County Telegram.

The new software is expected to be available in the top 10 Real Cities markets by the end of the year.

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