Newspapers and the ‘Integrated Marketplace’

Jobs, Cars, Real Estate and private party classifieds have generated billions in revenue (more than $18 billion in 2005) for US newspapers. Then there are the ROP and FSI ads, which drive a great many readers/users (see related coupons post).

All this content is typically distributed in different places on newspaper sites. That wouldn’t be a problem if that strategy were working — the data suggest that newspaper sites have little traction among consumers as an online shopping resource. Now there’s something of a debate going on in the industry about whether to offer “federated search” or, alternatively, something that amounts to an “integrated” local marketplace or to maintain a “vertical” strategy, separating content out into buckets or distinct silos. (This debate itself is something of an ironic mirror of the horizontal vs. vertical search competition online more broadly: breadth vs. depth).

Newspaper vendors are increasingly offering this concept of an “integrated marketplace” to the newspaper industry:

This unified marketplace is certainly the model of a Windos Live Expo or, to some degree, a Craiglist, a LiveDeal or an Oodle. I must admit that I’m biased toward that idea: a single destination to aggregate traffic and simplify things for consumers. Specialized vertical subsections can live within that single marketplace however.

Then there’s the idea of combining a services directory (yellow pages) with classifieds and other local shopping content. That single destination concept, its comprehensiveness and simplicity is ultimately the value proposition of broad search engine. Notwithstanding all the competition and innovation nobody, however, has yet to really successfully do it for local.


Disclosure: I’m on the AdMission advisory board.

3 Responses to “Newspapers and the ‘Integrated Marketplace’”

  1. industrygal Says:

    FindGuru (, formerly ReedLink, is the enhanced vertical search engine for locating products, product specifications, and companies, connecting buyers and suppliers in the Manufacturing, Life Science, Construction and other B2B industries. Check out the site: FindGuru

  2. Howard Owens Says:

    Think about; What are users trying to do.

    They guy search for a car is rarely the same guy searching for a house or a job.

    People generally visit a site with specific intentions, not board, unfocused or undefined intentions.

    And increasingly, people don’t necessarily think … let me see what my local newspaper site has for classifieds … they think, let me google it.

    Both of those ideas argue for, I think, separate verticals.

    There are benefits to integrated search, portal bundles, but the sites also need to function indepedently.

    The reason some newspapers have stmbled with their verticals is because they just haven’t done a very good job with specific said verticals. It’s not that the silo concept is flawed. Lack of compelling content, kludgy search, lack of functionality, cluttered designs … all drive consumers away.

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    But think about what Google or Yahoo represent: a single starting point for all things online in the public mind. That’s essentially what I’m arguing for — a single local destination with reliable information that can handle a range of commercial queries. Verticals can offer depth but most people don’t know verticals, so they discover them through Google, etc.

    A single local marketplace that can accomodate a range of consumer needs is what, in some sense, Craigslist offers and provides and what has built Craigslist into a megabrand. People go there for: jobs, cars, apartments, used stuff, personals, etc.

    And Craigslist is the definition of “kudgy search, lack of functionality, cluttered designs . . . ” So why does it succeed — cause people trust it, it has lots of local stuff and it works for them.

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