If you can’t beat them, join them — at least that’s the latest strategy of newspaper giant Tribune Co. when it comes to free online classifieds providers and aggregators.
Tribune last week expanded its Los Angeles-based free classifieds provider Recycler.com into six cities where it owns local TV stations. These markets include Dallas, Houston, Seattle, St. Louis, Indianapolis and New Orleans. It is also in the process of rolling out in six cities where it owns newspapers — New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Orlando, Fla., Hartford, Conn. and Allentown, Pa.
“We’re going after a different market, trying to reach users who may not be going to our newspaper sites,” said Julie Cole, VP of merchandise and classified technology at Tribune’s interactive and classified division. “We hope to use this to expand our reach.”
Along with general merchandise listings, Recycler includes job, home and automotive listings, community retail services and announcements. It also pulls in listings from its newspaper classifieds and Careerbuilder for its “compare stuff” feature, as well as listings from outside companies like Craigslist and LiveDeal in some of its markets.
Tribune has invested in several online classifieds joint ventures with rivals Knight Ridder and Gannett, including CareerBuilder, ShopLocal, Cars.com, Apartments.com and Homescape.com. Content from those sites is expected to be added to the Recycler service at some time in the future, Cole said, emphasizing the “non-confrontational” relationship of Recycler to Tribune’s other properties and joint ventures.
Recycler will perform as a “test kitchen” for Tribune’s other properties, with planned testing of location-specific and other features that could be applied to its other online ventures, Cole said.
The basic free listing gives sellers a 50-character headline, 2,000-character description, one main photo and one additional photo that runs for 14 days. Enhanced listings add photos, text enhancements and priority positioning for a fee. Sellers can also opt to purchase the “Browse and Buy” e-commerce option to enable completion of the transaction online. The Recycler platform runs on CityXpress’ eMarketplaceExpress software.
Newspapers have been struggling translate their offline classifieds businesses online, especially amidst competition from free classifieds providers like Craigslist, which auction giant eBay recently bought a stake in; and classifieds aggregators like Oodle.
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