Newspapers should be classifieds clearinghouses

Written by Michael on October 1st, 2006

Everybody and his brother’s startup has a free classified service these days. Even if you’re ignoring all but the bigger players — Craigslist, Base, Edgeio, eBay — who can keep track?

Hint: they’re black and white and read in large but ever-decreasing quantities.

For the moment, newspapers in the smallest markets should probably still be trying to minimize the content that leaks onto competitors’ sites. But in mid-size markets (and, before long, in the smaller ones) papers can keep offering value to classified advertisers by offering a service the big boys don’t: syndication of your ad throughout the Internet. Anybody who pays for a classified should get it listed on all the free sites in addition to the print edition and the newspaper’s Web site.

Three startups called Mpire, vFlyer and Postlets are trying to make this service into an entire business, the
New York Times reports today. (While they’re at it, they check your spelling and suggest an effective layout.)

It’s not clear whether these guys are going to make money for such a relatively simple service. But if newspapers can seed their ads into both the Web-savvy and Web-illiterate markets, they’ll be saving their clients a lot of time.

No time for the staff to do all these postings, you say? Well, I happen to know of three fledgling Web sites who might make great partners for your classified department…

 

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