Home' Local Media Today : January 2005 Contents 10
This photo was taken at the Howard County Fair
(MD) and was one of about 20 that ran in a
multipage fair special section.
Judges from API deemed this one a winner in the
annual SNA Editorial contest and awarded it a
first place in best photojournalism.
Photo was taken by
Howard County Times
Howard County, MD
a division of
Patuxent Publishing Company.
By Peter M. Zollman
The Los Angeles Police Department
recently filmed three short action films to
recruit new officers. They’ll be shown in
movie theaters; on the department’s own
Web site, JoinLAPD.com, and on
In a nutshell, that sums up the problem
facing newspapers in classifieds.
There are lots more places to advertise
than ever. Hiring? Selling your car?
Buying a house? There’s a wide range of
options for advertisers, buyers and job-
That’s why it’s more critical than ever for
your classified services to be complete,
comprehensive, local and highly effective
in print and especially online. And
please, emphasize the local part of that
equation, because it’s a unique element
you can offer that can make your services
stand out from those others.
At Classified Intelligence, we follow the
changing classified advertising market-
places. We watch the trends, with an eye
on practical ways to turn them in your
favor. We keep in touch with newspapers,
Web sites, yellow pages, employers,
advertisers and classified-advertising users
to see how those changes will affect your
With that in mind, here are the key trends
we’ll be watching closely in 2005. Pay
attention. More important, you’d better
meet these threats and opportunities head-
“MEG AND CRAIG:” Merchandise clas-
sified ads are threatened with “death by
EBay.” The company, headed by the bril-
liant Meg Whitman, is growing its “criti-
cal mass” in merchandise sales, while
many newspapers don’t have critical mass
at all. EBay has spent about $865 million
(U.S .) in 2004 buying online classified
advertising businesses worldwide, includ-
ing about $12 million to buy 25 percent of
the powerful free-ads community
Craigslist.org. Craigslist keeps growing as
a tough competitor – it’s now in more than
65 cities – partly because it’s run like a
counter-culture service for friends, not a
YELLOW PAGES AND
CLASSIFIEDS: Combining the strong,
frequently updated database of a local
classified advertising publication with the
rich directory data of telephone yellow
and white pages may create the best local
online shopping experience for users.
Several of these combos launched in ‘04;
you’ll see more in 2005. We’re even
working with one major, telco-affiliated
directory publisher on its classified adver-
tising strategy. Uh-oh, newspapers.
Local search: As more users turn first to
search engines for products and services,
and Google and Overture (among others)
surround those results with useful targeted
ads, local advertisers are learning to post
pay-per-click ads to generate business. If
your site doesn’t offer easily searchable
ads, classifieds and advertiser lists, and
contextual ads, you may lose out to
PAY FOR PERFORMANCE: “Pay per
click” and “pay per action” ads are
increasingly popular with advertisers, who
like to know exactly what they got for
what they paid. Recently a smart newspa-
per ad executive told me he’d never offer
PPC and PPA services; I say, “Never say
never.” One major paper I know is negoti-
ating to give a real estate advertiser a test
program of half-page ads that cost nothing
up front but generate revenue based on
leads delivered by those ads. Fascinating.
(We’ll see if it happens.)
ACCOUNTABILITY: Advertisers are
getting smarter fast about learning how
the money they spent on advertising actu-
ally brought customers into their stores,
home-buyers to their agents, job-seekers
to their chairs. Using Web tracking,
unique telephone numbers, call identifiers,
targeted lead-generation systems and other
techniques, advertisers can tell, for exam-
ple, how much it actually cost to hire each
of the people who came in through vari-
ous specific sources. Powerful. A real pos-
itive development for media that deliver
results; big trouble for those that don’t.
SELF-SERVICE AD PLACEMENT:
Customers want to place ads online. And
when they do, if you make it easy for
them, they spend more money. These serv-
ices are growing steadily, as they should.
RICHER CONTENT ONLINE: The
days of saying, “Sorry, we can’t put a pic-
ture of your house on our Web site” or “
... in our newspaper” should be over.
Sadly, they aren’t. Online, advertisers can
offer lots of photos, even video clips.
They add value to house, apartment, car,
even job ads. If you don’t offer them, your
Each of these trends is changing your
classified advertising business. Keep an
eye on them. Read my column. Visit our
Web site occasionally for free (and paid)
reports about them. Sign up for our free
“Classified Intelligence Case Studies.” But
more important than watching, ACT.
Improve your services. Upgrade your
sales force. Add pictures, features and
databases to your Web sites. And make
your classified marketplace the best – the
only – place to go in your market for jobs,
homes, cars and stuff. If you’re that “mar-
ketplace,” you’ll have the foundation of a
great business for the future.
Peter M. Zollman is found-
ing principal of Classified
Intelligence, L.L .C., and the
AIM Group, consulting
groups that work with media
companies to help develop
profitable interactive media
services. To download their
reports, learn about their services, or sign up for a
free trial on Classified Intelligence Report, visit
ClassifiedIntelligence.com Zollman can be reached
at (407) 788-2780, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Improving interactive classifieds:
More important than ever
One of the midwest’s finest suburban
newspapers located in Kansas City is
looking for an Editor. Must be able to
provide strong leadership and to focus
on local news coverage
for each of our 5 weeklies.
Send or e-mail Resume to:
Roy Biondi Sun Publications
7373 W. 107th St.
Overland Park, KS 66212
CLASSIFIED SALES MANAGER
One of the midwest’s finest suburban
newspapers located in Kansas City area
is looking for a Classified Sales
Manager. Prefer metro market experi-
ence and management experience.
Attractive salary and bonus potential.
Send or e-mail resume to
Roy Biondi Sun Newspapers
7373 W 107th St.
Overland Park, KS 66212
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