Yahoo delivers 17 more newspapers online

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NEW YORK -- Yahoo Inc. has added 17 more newspapers to its group of online publishing partners, giving the group added heft as it approaches its one-year anniversary.

Yahoo executives told The Associated Press that The Columbus Dispatch and 16 regional newspapers owned by The New York Times Co. have joined the consortium, bringing its total number to about 415 dailies and another 140 weeklies. The New York Times itself, however, hasn't joined.

Lem Lloyd, who runs the consortium for Yahoo, said the partnership has already been bearing fruit both for newspaper publishers as well as Yahoo, but he declined to provide specific dollar figures.

The first goal was to integrate the online help-wanted classified advertising listing of newspapers with Yahoo's online job search database HotJobs. Lloyd said that has been proceeding on schedule, with some 377 papers already launched and others on the way.

For newspapers, linking their online recruitment ads with HotJobs is seen as a way to hold on to more advertising dollars amid competition from Internet rivals like Craigslist.

Other newspapers have linked up with Monster Worldwide Inc. in online classified ads or are part of CareerBuilder, a joint venture owned by the three largest newspaper publishers, Gannett Co., Tribune Co. and McClatchy Co.

The Yahoo consortium has continued to sign up new members since its original launch last Nov. 20. It added the New York Daily News Nov. 9 and a group of 12 newspaper publishing companies in April.

Yahoo lets newspapers add job listings to its HotJobs database at a wholesale rate, while newspapers can charge higher prices to advertisers for help-wanted ads that they also upload to HotJobs.

Lloyd said Yahoo has seen a revenue bump in the tens of millions per year, but he said the effect has been varied among the various newspaper partners since they all charge different prices.

One of those partners, Cox Newspapers in Atlanta, says the partnership has "gone very well" to date, according to Leon Levitt, vice president of digital media the company, which is a unit of privately held Cox Enterprises Inc.

Levitt also declined to discuss specific revenue gains, but he said the Web sites of Cox's 17 newspapers have seen significant increases in traffic since signing up with Yahoo.

In Austin, Texas, for example, where Cox owns the Austin American-Statesman, its market share for online recruitment ads is now 40%, up 19 percentage points from a year ago.

Newspapers in the Yahoo consortium will also have the option of signing up for a system run by Yahoo that will serve advertising to Web viewers, but that won't be operational until 2008, Lloyd said. Members of the newspaper group can also share news headlines with Yahoo and have Yahoo become the search provider for their Web sites.

The consortium, while growing, still has several conspicuous absences, including Gannett and Tribune, the No. 1 and No. 2 newspaper publishers by circulation. Both companies say they are continuing to talk with various parties about cooperating in online advertising. Separately, Gannett, Tribune, MediaNews Group Inc. and other publishers are also considering forming a joint ad-sales firm that would sell bundles of advertising to big marketers, Levitt said.

The Washington Post Co. hasn't joined the Yahoo group either, although Caroline Little, the CEO of Washington Post-Newsweek Interactive, said it also is having discussions with potential partners. She declined to identify them or say how far those talks have progressed.

Little said the Post was in an unusual position given its heavy local focus combined with national advertising. "Finding the right fit for us is a bit more tricky," Little said.

And while the 15 newspapers in The New York Times Co.'s regional group as well as the company's Worcester Telegram & Gazette have joined, neither The New York Times itself nor its sister paper, The Boston Globe, have joined.

Denise Warren, the chief advertising officer of the New York Times media group, says the Times' Web site is different from many other newspaper sites since it has dramatically higher traffic than many newspaper sites -- with 17 million unique viewers last month according to Nielsen/NetRatings -- and a unique brand for which nearly all of the online advertising is sold in-house rather than through networks.

"We need to consider these things in a very different way and a different mind-set than some of our newspaper colleagues," Warren said.
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