‘San Diego Union-Tribune’ Offers Free Classifieds

By: E&P Staff

The San Diego Union-Tribune is feeling the Craigslist affect. Today, the paper started offering free classifieds.

The Union-Tribune is taking the extra step in giving space away in the print section as well as the online companion. Anyone wanting to sell a car or other merchandise for $5,000 or less gets three free lines of advertising for seven days — online and in print. The offer does not include commercial entities.

Scott Whitley, director of advertising at the Union-Tribune, told the paper, which wrote about the story on Sunday, that merchandise under $5,000 is a small portion of revenue. “‘This is not a move out of desperation,'” Whitley told the Union-Tribune. “‘It really is about growing readership and content — and advertising is content.'”

The move is just as much about raising circulation numbers as it is about defending its turf. The idea is to boost thinning classified pages with more ads; more ads bring in more readers.

“‘In this day and age when newspapers are struggling for readership, offering free classified(s) can be an enticement to read the paper,'” John Morton, a leading newspaper analyst, told the Union-Tribune.

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