By: Staff reports

Papers Say Network Is Expanding will soon be joined by another newspaper, but it
won’t be the Chicago Tribune.

Six months ago, classified advertising leaders at the Chicago Sun-

Times, Daily Herald and Copley Newspapers joined to bring their
employment, personal, auto, and real estate classifieds to a single Web
site. They reasoned that readers most want classifieds hawking goods
and services in their own geographic area, and that pooling ads would
bring more eyeballs.

The principals from each of the partners say they are poised to expand
their network with other players including one unidentified paper
coming soon. While the Tribune is not among the prospects,
ClassifiedsChicago leaders say they would consider the region’s largest
paper as a partner.

Meanwhile, ClassifiedsChicago can’t join Classified Ventures because of
that group’s exclusivity rules in most markets, including Chicago,
where the Tribune is the only member. Classified Ventures is owned by
eight media companies, including Tribune Co.

‘Classified Ventures could be a threat or a partner,’ says John Cary,
director of online publications for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Tim Landon, vice president of Tribune Interactive, says they have a
dialogue with ClassifiedsChicago, but would not comment on the
possibility of doing business together. ‘Yes, we have talked to other
local publishers about joint classified efforts and will probably
continue to do so,’ Landon says. ‘(We) may or may not do something with
these folks in the future.’

Tribune is focusing on building Classified Ventures for two reasons,
Landon says. First, the value of pure traditional classifieds will
diminish over time. ‘Tribune is increasingly focused on things like where data come directly from the dealer’s inventory systems,’
Landon explains. Second, Classified Ventures brings national branding
and technology scale and scope, which are very important on the Net.

Mitch Golub, executive vice president of Classified Ventures, wishes
the new consortium godspeed, because he views the new site as
consciousness-raising for Chicago classifieds in general. In fact, he
predicts ClassifiedsChicago will have a positive impact on Tribune and
Classified Ventures traffic.

For the players at ClassifiedsChicago, the new venture has been a
learning experience. ‘It has been a learning curve to work with each
other without stepping on each other’s toes,’ says Steve Sumner, who is
organizing the project for Copley’s newspapers that ring the Chicago
suburbs. ‘Just the fact that three competitors got together is a feat,
especially in the classifieds area.

The three players insist that the loss of print classifieds was not the
driving force for the venture. ‘We’re technologically taking advantage
of what’s come along on the Web,’ says Donald Longacre, assistant vice
president for classifieds at the Daily Herald, Illinois’ third-largest
daily behind the Tribune and Sun-Times. ‘This is another way to conduct
business in a competitive manner.’

By combining forces, the region’s coverage and the distribution power
becomes a competitive force in the marketplace. After soft launching
this month, the group hopes to have about 35,000 listings up, roughly
evenly distributed among the companies.

‘The distribution power is enormous between us in Wisconsin, Indiana,
and Illinois,’ Cary says. ‘We have a huge distribution edge and brand

The site, powered by Infinet and backed by the Inland Press
Association, is to be a model for other regions wishing to partner with
media companies that would otherwise be competitors. All newspapers
sell print and online classifieds as a ‘combo’ buy, that is,
advertisers pay a built-in cost for the online publication of the ad.
Each publication raised ad rates several years ago in preparation for
launching the online component.


Staff reports

(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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