Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ark.-based newspaper chain wants its classified ads taken off Wal-Mart's Web site

The biggest newspaper company in Arkansas, WEHCO Media, owned by the Walter E. Hussman family, has asked Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. not to put classified advertising from the company's 11 daily newspapers on Wal-Mart's Web site. The nation's largest retail chain has complied.

Wal-Mart put a "classifieds" link on the site in the last week of May "in what has been described by the Bentonville-based retailer as a test program," Stacey Roberts of WEHCO's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. "It takes visitors to lists of advertisements that can be searched according to location, product or service offered." The newspaper said its management was surprised. (Read more) For Roberts' latest update, via the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association Bulletin, click here.

"Wal-Mart noted that WEHCO's ads would be exposed to a larger audience, and it was possible to direct a inquiry back to the newspaper's Web site," the Bulletin reported earlier. "WEHCO noted that users could review the content of these ads on the Wal-Mart site without being directed back to the newspaper's Web site. It also noted that, unlike some classified sites which concentrate on bigger cities, or certain categories of classifieds, the ads on the site are listed for virtually all towns in the U.S., regardless of size, and all categories, from employment, real estate and autos to merchandise for sale."

Classified sites such as Craigslist and Career Builder, which is owned by major newspaper companies, have concentrated on larger markets. WEHCO is concerned that the move by Wal-Mart, which has most of its stores in rural areas, "could be a significant threat to smaller market newspapers and their classified ads," the Bulletin reports. "While WEHCO realizes it must compete for classified ads and audience, the company says it does not see the advantage in helping classified competitors, especially since classified content is a major reason for reading a newspaper or its Web site, and classified revenues are a major source of funding news gathering, reporting and journalism." (Read more)

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