New Wal-Mart Classifieds Site Drops ‘Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’ Ads

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By: E&P Staff

Wal-Mart is no longer posting ads from The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in its experimental classified advertising Web site, the newspaper reported Thursday.

Walmart.com Classifieds beta is a test site quietly launched in late May that offers free classified ads and also aggregates ads from other sources in a partnership with Oodle.com. Oodle uses a protocol to link ads from numerous sites — the company says about 80,000 — that give general permission to link the ads. The Wal-Mart site includes numerous ads that originated in CareerBuilder, the recruitment network established by several newspaper companies.

Oodle also has formal agreements with a handful of newspapers to give their ads wider exposure.

As with Oodle, the Wal-Mart site includes only very general information. Clicking on the Wal-Mart ad sends a user to the original site.

The Democrat-Gazette discovered its ads were being linked by Walmart.com Classifieds only when it was reported by the Arkansas Business Journal in early June. At the time, Paul R. Smith, president of the Democrat-Gazette parent Wehco Newspapers, said the paper was pondering whether or not to ask the Bentonville, Ark. retailing giant to stop linking to the newspaper ads.

But in a Thursday Democrat-Gazette story by Stacey Roberts, Smith said the paper had determined that its unique content would be compromised by allowing Wal-Mart to link to it.

“We want people to come to our site to access our ads,” Smith said. “We have no animosity towards Wal-Mart. We considered that some people would think it would be an advantage to be linked through Wal-Mart’s Web site, but we felt differently.”

A Wal-Mart spokesperson told the paper that Democrat-Gazette ads were taken down as of June 9.

The spokesperson noted that newspapers and other sites can alter their permission levels to prevent linking by Wal-Mart.

But Smith told the Democrat-Gazette the paper doesn’t believe it should alter tools that allow readers to find ads and other content.

“Just because you don’t put a fence around your yard does not mean that people can come take your lawn furniture,” he told the paper.

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