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Panpa Bulletin : May 2007
28 PANPA Bulletin May 2007 Interactive insider Who are your major competitors in classifieds? Have you looked around lately and done a serious "reality check?" Perhaps there's the AutoTrader, as well as AutoTrader.com or its international equivalent. Maybe a real estate book or two. A guide to apartments and other rent- als? Monster.com and Yahoo HotJobs and CareerBuilder, too, unless you're affiliated with one of them. And of course there are probably Craigslist / Kijiji / Loquo and the like -- the free classified sites that are serving consumers and advertisers in markets large and small. But another competitor is looming, one that offers many of the advantages your newspaper has -- a strong local brand, promotion power, "feet on the street" call- ing on local advertisers, and the ability to undercut you on price. Maybe even offer free local classifieds. It's the TV station down the block. Or the local radio station. Or the TV station and the radio station. Or the cable company. Or a handful of radio stations -- some of them competitors to each other -- working together to take recruitment advertising that once went into the newspaper. Or all of the above. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, of course: If broadcasters can deliver results to their advertisers better, cheaper or faster than you can, they're entitled. That's capitalism in action. The issue for you is, "If they provide results better/cheaper/faster than my newspaper does, how long will my newspa- per stay in business?" Classified Intelligence recently studied broadcasters offering classifieds in the U.S. and globally. In most other countries, frankly, we found limited or no classified advertising offered by broadcasters. But there's healthy, heavy competition in the U.S. and Canada. (A free report on the sub- ject is available on our website, ClassifiedIntelligence.com. The report was sponsored by CityXpress, which provides classified advertising and auc- tion services to newspapers and broad- casters alike.) Some of our findings: • In the top 10 markets (by popula- tion) in the US, 95 per cent of the station websites reviewed by CI offer one or more classified categories. In smaller markets, 59 percent of the stations we reviewed offer one or more category. • There is low but growing classi- fieds penetration among radio stations. RegionalHelpWanted.com, AutoMart.com, CareerBuilder.com and CareerBoard.com help radio stations compete, especially in small and mid-size markets. • Cable MSOs (multiple system opera- tors) are getting into the act, too, offering high-tech classifieds including video-on- demand listings (which pinpoint potential buyers, since the individual user can be tracked through set-top boxes), banners and other forms of classifieds. All of the top five MSOs offer some classified services. Comcast Corp., the largest, with 2.4 mil- lion subscribers, offers a "classifieds on demand" service allowing advertisers to convert images, text, print ad, catalog pages and even Internet banner ads into automo- tive listings. In Canada, CanWest Global Communications Corp. is leading the charge with newspaper/broadcast/online classified products -- most notably, Working. com and Driving.ca. WTVF, the Landmark-owned CBS affili- ate in Nashville, Tenn., began offering clas- sifieds last year -- not for the revenue, but as a traffic-builder on NewsChannel5.com. "The strength of our brand, and our rep- utation in the market, have helped us open up internet-based classifieds to somewhat of a new audience," said Melissa Thompson, director of NewsChannel5 Interactive. "We've attracted people who were not used to internet classifieds, but came because they trust our brand and they've seen it promoted on our programs." Sound familiar? Sounds like what news- papers have been saying for years (except for the word "programs"). The station even takes a page from a typ- ical newspaper and uses seasonal promo- tions, for example highlighting lawnmowers or tractors in the spring. "Our competitors in this space are as much, if not more so, EBay and Craigslist as they are the local newspaper and their on- line classifieds," Thompson said, "because our product is a combination of Craigslist and EBay in terms of function." In other markets, TV stations aggres- sively offer recruitment advertising, both on-air and online, frequently featuring "job of the day" in broadcast promo- tions. RegionalHelpWanted.com, the outgrowth of a small job board launched almost 10 years ago in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., now has 321 sites throughout the U.S. and Canada -- many of them lan- guishing, but others generating well over $1 million a year in revenue. Stations offer classifieds for a wide variety of reasons -- revenue, driving traffic to their websites, and creating a "commu- nity" of users (and advertisers) much like Craigslist.org. Some broadcasters and cable operators work with the local newspaper, rather than an out-of-market vendor or national brand- name site like Monster.com, AutoTrader. com or Realtor.com. Might there be a threat in all of this -- or an opportunity -- in your market? Peter M Zollman is founding prin- cipal of the AIM Group and Classi ed Intelligence, consulting groups that work with media companies to help develop pro table interactive media services. Contact: pzollman@classi edintelligence. com, (407) 788-2780. Broadcasters and classi eds: working in your market? But another competitor is looming, one that o ers many of the advantages your newspaper has -- a strong local brand, promotion power, "feet on the street" calling on local advertisers, and the ability to undercut you on price. Maybe even o er free local classi eds.