Going Once, Going Twice

By: Wayne Robins

New-merchandise auctions that combine online bidding with print promotion and advertising are showing gavel-to-gavel promise for generating newspaper revenue.

CityXpress Corp. of Vancouver, British Columbia, has signed agreements to bring its auction package to The Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif., the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and a number of smaller papers after successful runs at The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal last spring and the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald this month, said Phil Dubois, CEO and president of CityXpress.

Another Canadian company — Auction Media Inc. of Petersborough, Ontario (it has an office in office in Reston, Va.) — is launching auctions at The Idaho Statesman in Boise, The Holland (Mich.) Sentinel, and The Toronto Sun this fall, according to Mark G. Stone, CEO of Auction Media. “These are not eBay-style auctions,” Stone said.

“The sellers are not individuals — they are local merchants,” said Dubois of CityXpress. Merchandise is offered for bidding on the newspaper Web sites — some newspapers will even take telephone bids. Merchants set a reserve price, or minimum sale price, usually 50% to 75% of the retail price.

Most auctions last seven or eight days. At the Grand Forks Herald, 400 items were offered — and 280, or 70%, were sold. Revenue for the 32,591-daily-circulation Herald was $95,000, according to CityXpress.

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