By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Classified information

Chuck Tanowitz brings up the part that I left out of yesterday’s post on circulation numbers and the Web: the fact that the insanely lucrative classified ads off which daily newspapers fed for years are gone for good.

Yes, newspapers can move their classified sections to the Web. The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald have both done quite a lot on that front. But how do they compete with Craig’s List, which is free? Or Monster.com, which has ravaged newspapers’ help-wanted sections? They don’t.


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5 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    And the debate goes on…Old habits die hard obviously and it is sad to see these old bulls dying a slow death. In my mind, the problem is two fold:How we have grown indifferent and how we raised our kids to not worry to much about the news and political thought. That as long as college kids get snippets, then they can label themselves informed. Low bar there. Second, these online outlets have not done a good job in fusing their ad database and response time between both channels.When you hit their site, you get overwhelmed with a lot of noise and nothing strikes your interest. You are desensitized after a while. At least a quarter-page Tiffany ad of a beautiful jewel makes a more lasting impression in the paper edition. There are so many obvious ways they can change their ad style and services sections to make it more lucrative and useful but I won’t lay it out here.It is just sad to see all this money and all the effort and all the intellect and info get wasted in a sea of ignorant management decisions.I see a lot of people parsing words over circulation and hits. It seems futile to over-analyze that. A hit is hit. A unique online visitor or someone buying the paper on a visit from Idaho is the same thing to an advertiser. If you are concerned about making the numbers look high to make advertisers happy, then you have a high enough number both online and in print to make it work.How many are coming back or not coming back is irrelevant. A lot of different profiles cancel each other out. We are still talking about a huge amount of subscribership that is a great marketing target if only you’d do your job right.For God’s sake, how many companies would kill for a list of about 600,000 names and regular visitors in one of the smartest and most affluent areas in the country and the world. And they are still complaining?? Get to work and figure it out and stop crying.I wish newspaper basic and news repotrting and opinion and analysis hadn’t been wrapped inside this focus on ads. People before founded papers for the sake of informing and uncovering. Now these stock-market companies peg a great nobel mission on the back of a profitability and corporate language. I know it is a necessary fact to have a solvable operation and profit in a free market society is a good indictor of success and a ‘good job.’But I am afraid a lot of things are getting confused and watered down. Incompetence certainly does not help. …

  2. Anonymous

    Excuse me for being rude or impolite here, but since this message gets lost in all the hand-wringing over the Globe, allow me to focus on what I think the paper’s main problem is:THE PRODUCT SUCKS!!!!!Thanks.

  3. Copy Editor

    While we’re considering advertising worries,let’s not forget Macy’s takeover of Filene’s and the expected loss of department store advertising.

  4. John Voelcker

    From Anonymous …”I see a lot of people parsing words over circulation and hits. It seems futile to over-analyze that. A hit is hit. A unique online visitor or someone buying the paper on a visit from Idaho is the same thing to an advertiser.”Absolutely NOT! Increasingly online advertisers care very much who they’re reaching, and will buy very specific sets of demographics, locations, and behaviors. Want only males 25-34 in a given ZIP Code? Websites with light registration can provide ’em, and ONLY them.More and more advertisers are choosing to target their ads in this way. A very large discount chain that has historically spent bazillions of dollars to put inserts into papers across the country is now telling those papers’ sales reps, “Here is the list of streets / house numbers / ZIP codes we want to reach. We will pay you to distribute our circulars to those people. We will NOT pay you to distribute our circulars to anyone else.” Do you know what fear that strikes into the heart of any halfway intelligent print salesperson?

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