Recent Deals Signal Classifieds Convergence

Convergence is beginning to hit the newspaper classifieds world if two recent agreements are any indication. One between online classifieds site LiveDeal and e-commerce transaction firm AdStar will bring together LiveDeal’s Web classifieds and local print classifieds, online and off. Another deal aligns Monster Worldwide’s job classifieds site Monster.com with Philadelphia Media Holdings papers through a new co-branded Web destination.

The pair-up between LiveDeal and AdStar gives LiveDeal access to the 40-some print newspapers employing AdStar’s classified ad transaction system. AdStar print partners include Advance Internet and Fairchild Publications NY papers, Houston Chronicle, Chicago Sun Times, The Washington Times, San Jose Mercury News, Boston Herald, Orlando Sentinel, and Denver Post.

Online classifieds advertisers will have the option of upgrading their listings by paying to include them in the classifieds sections of relevant local print papers. On the flipside, print classifieds advertisers will have the opportunity to publish their ads within LiveDeal’s Web listings. After submitting LiveDeal listings, interested advertisers will be sent to AdStar’s platform to purchase print ads in selected papers and customize them.

All LiveDeal online classifieds are free other than those advertising jobs and business services, which cost $9.95 per listing. Individual newspaper publishers will determine the cost of Web-to-print upgrades, according to LiveDeal CEO Rajesh Navar.

The newspaper industry is feeling the tightening grip of free Web classifieds services; the LiveDeal arrangement with AdStar represents a potential for cooperation among print newspaper publishers and the online classifieds outfits threatening to eat their ad revenue supper.

The classifieds site’s deal with AdStar acts as “a bridge that needs to be built between the online and offline world,” suggested Navar. He doesn’t think AdStar’s newspaper clients will face a tough decision when it comes to implementing the LiveDeal classifieds option. “From online to print, it’s just extra money, so I don’t think it will be an issue,” he explained.

LiveDeal already has an arrangement in place with Canada’s Torstar Corporation to distribute free local listings to Web versions of The Toronto Star, The Hamilton Spectator, The Record and The Guelph Mercury. The online classifieds firm gets 50 percent of its revenue from ad placements on its site; the other half comes from pay-per-lead services sold to advertisers and other listings enhancements.

Another Web classifieds beast whose shadow has loomed over the traditional newspaper jobs classifieds market, Monster.com, Tuesday announced an agreement with Philadelphia Media Holdings, the new owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and philly.com. Starting August 14, the two firms will launch a co-branded job search and recruitment site, allowing access to Monster’s resume database, as well as online and offline recruitment services to employers in the large Philadelphia metro area. Until now, Philly.com’s job classifieds were powered by Monster rival CareerBuilder.

In April, The Washington Post Company launched its D.C.-metro area site, Express, which licenses Oodle’s technology to run free and paid classifieds. Oodle also licenses its technology to Lycos and Backpage.com, a free classifieds service run by Village Voice Media.

A recently-published white paper from local media research firm The Kelsey Group reinforces the notion that tides are shifting from classifieds competition to the convergence of various forms of online and print ads. The “Newspapers 2.0, Part 3: Changing Directions in Newspaper Advertising” paper observes that publishers are starting to see Web classifieds products, as well as performance-based advertising and Yellow Pages ads as offerings that can provide supplementary ad revenue and attract a new segment of advertisers. The Kelsey Group suggests newspaper publishers now have the opportunity “to converge classified, display and performance-based advertising with Yellow Pages advertising. To do so, newspapers must develop better search technology to index and serve combined local and national news, classifieds, and Yellow Pages results.”

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