Yahoo Spins HotJobs Sell-off as Good for Newspaper Partners

Yahoo has finally sold off HotJobs – to a main rival, Monster Worldwide. The two firms also announced yesterday they signed a three-year agreement making Monster the exclusive provider of career and job content on Yahoo’s U.S. and Canada homepages. Yahoo believes the sell-off and traffic deal will benefit its newspaper consortium partners.

Monster CEO and President Sal Iannuzzi called the negotiation with Yahoo “long and interesting,” stressing the acquisition will help Monster scale its business. “We’re leveraging all we’ve done at a time when the economy is rebounding,” said Iannuzzi during Monster’s Q4 2009 earnings call yesterday afternoon.

Monster expects to establish the top position in the U.S. as a result of the deal, said Timothy Yates, Monster’s EVP and CFO. According to comScore, CareerBuilder led the job search site category in February 2009 with 12.2 million visitors followed by Monster’s 9.5 million visitors and HotJobs’ 7.7 million.

The acquisition “opens up opportunities for CareerBuilder,” said Pete Conti, executive VP of local media research firm Borrell Associates, who suggested consolidation among the three recruitment giants was “inevitable.”

Yates told investors the deal will provide more opportunities for advertisers, and also anticipated more job matches between employers and seekers.

Yahoo sold HotJobs for $225 million in cash – far less than it paid for the job ads site in 2001. The acquisition is subject to U.S. Department of Justice approval, according to Yahoo.

Monster hopes its separate traffic partnership with Yahoo – making Monster the exclusive provider of job ads and content on Yahoo’s homepages in the U.S. and Canada for three years – leads to international expansion. According to Yates, Monster is also afforded the exclusive right to negotiate similar traffic deals with Yahoo in the U.K., India, France, Brazil, and elsewhere.

Upon approval of the deal, Monster will take over the HotJobs component of Yahoo’s newspaper consortium relationships, giving Monster an additional 600 sites for distribution. Yahoo’s so-called newspaper consortium is a group of around 800 newspaper site publishers, some of which partner with the company to run HotJobs recruitment classifieds, some that run Yahoo display and search ads, and sell their own inventory in Yahoo’s ad network, and some that do both. The consortium has its foundation in HotJobs ad distribution on the paper sites.

Yahoo will maintain its relationships with its consortium partners when it comes to search and display advertising, content distribution, and Yahoo’s publisher network and ad targeting platform.

The newspaper consortium publishers have “got to be disappointed,” said Conti. However, he added, “HotJobs has been up for grabs for awhile… They probably knew this was coming.”

“We had a call with the [Newspaper Consortium] HotJobs steering committee [Wednesday] afternoon,” said Lem Lloyd, VP of Yahoo’s Newspaper Consortium. “They were overall positive.” Lloyd suggested that partners were especially pleased with the potential for added distribution as a result of the Yahoo/Monster traffic deal. Because the consortium publishers partnering with HotJobs feed their own recruitment listings into HotJobs, once the deal is approved they will be seen on Monster as well as the two North American Yahoo homepages. “I think the newspapers saw that as a benefit,” Lloyd told ClickZ News.

Of the 800 total Yahoo newspaper partners, there will remain around 600 that will continue to partner with Yahoo for search and display network advertising. Lloyd said the HotJobs sell-off will free Yahoo to focus on that aspect of the deals, and suggested that will also benefit the paper partners.

“Yahoo’s focus can be on winning in display advertising, and continuing to innovate on ad serving technology,” he said.

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