Thursday, September 9, 2004

Newspapers Compete Against Online Ecommerce Services with "Click and Buy" Functionality

It's no secret that newspaper ad revenues are feeling the pinch from new and reinvigorated online services, but probably the most ominous threat to local and regional papers has been the erosion of their bread-and-butter classified ad business from job listing databases and online auction services such as eBay. As highlighted in the Wall Street Journal more than 150 papers are beginning to experiment with "click and buy" link refarrals from their paper ads into eBay-like Web site classifieds (example at the St. Petersburg Times Tampabay.com Web site), apparently with pretty good results. The hardest part of the equation is integrating the technology into the infrastructure and mindset of paper organizations not used to managing ecommerce transactions. At the same time while local papers hesitated to move aggressively with local merchants who had little online expertise in moving their ad sales online those same local merchants discovered the ease and reach of the online auction services to pick up revenues across both broad markets and local markets, even as online community bulletin boards are gaining steam. "Click and buy" is a strong step in the right direction for beleagured newspapers trying to bridge their paper-bound operations into 21st century local content, but it's hardly a commitment to "online first" revenue generation. Online content is still largely a mystery to most news publishers still not used to serving a public equipped with powerful and affordable publishing technology. For those wanting some perspective on how to succeed in this emerging environment our new paper on The New Aggregation may help.
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