Monday, June 06, 2005

OODLES OF TROUBLE. The most significant media story of the weekend was this piece, by the Globe's Bruce Mohl, on Oodle.com, a commercial website that aggregates classified ads from a variety of sources, including newspapers.

Oodle doesn't steal - once you've found what you're looking for, you still have to click through to, say, the Globe's or the Herald's site to read the full ad. So there's nothing for newspapers to worry about, right?

Wrong. Mohl writes:

John Morton, a newspaper analyst with Morton Research, said the Oodle concept has obvious advantages for consumers, but he said its success could undermine the advertising rates of classified providers, which tend to be based on circulation.

Morton said there may be less incentive for a consumer to spend $50 on a classified ad in a large-circulation publication when a $10 ad in a smaller-circulation publication would end up with equal billing on Oodle.

"You're taking the publication's circulation out of the equation," Morton said.

This is potentially huge. Classified ads make up an enormous percentage of newspaper revenues. If the Oodle model takes hold, though, it doesn't matter where you advertise - you could take out an ad in a small paper, Craigslist, or whatever, and it will pop up in an Oodle search just as readily as if you had bought the ad in the Herald or the Globe.

And so the economic underpinnings of journalism are undermined once again.

Here's the press release announcing Oodle's move into Greater Boston.

OLIPHANT'S BACK. Globe columnist Tom Oliphant's battle with a burst brain aneurysm certainly hasn't robbed him of his sense of humor. Oliphant had two great lines in his moving comeback piece yesterday:

2005 suddenly becomes 1953.... And you have no idea who the president is - it really was possible to forget George Bush for a while.

...

Decades of journalism helped me pretend to have knowledge I didn't have.

Not a shred of self-pity, either. It will be good to see Oliphant back in the paper on a regular basis.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

No question that it's good that he's well enough to remember he dislikes Bush. Somehow, though, the negativity seems like a waste of energy.As a cancer survivor, I can tell you that after my diagnosis, things like hanging chads seemed a lot less important. To each his own, I guess.

Steve said...

Re Oodle - I don't quite get it. How is this going to break the current advertising pricing model? It'll still be based on the number of eyeballs that see the ad. As long as the newspapers' circulation stays up, that's the number of people who'll see the ad.

Oodle is just extra.

What's the problem, again?

Steve said...

Re Oodle - I don't quite get it. How is this going to break the current advertising pricing model? It'll still be based on the number of eyeballs that see the ad. As long as the newspapers' circulation stays up, that's the number of people who'll see the ad.

Oodle is just extra.

What's the problem, again?

Anonymous said...

Did anybody else see TO's total domination of Mich Malkin on the News Hour last year? It was a classic, which literally took Ms.Malkin's breath away. Tom has never lost a one-on-one battle to anyone on that segment handling David Brooks with ease.

Anonymous said...

Oodle is a big (and bad if you count on revenue from classified ads). Sure, in the old days ad rates were tied to circulation; that was before that "teeny tiny ad" (to quote that infomercial scumbag Dave Deldato) gets same billing as a premium billing in the NYTimes. Major publishers can't entirely be too enthralled about this development, especially if revenue comes from fancy ad buyers. It all looks the same on a webpage, eh?

As a further thought in the Boston area, the May/Federated merger (Before: Macys, Filenes, Bloomingdales, and Lord & Taylor; after: Macys 1,2,3, and 4) can't exactly be making the sales weasels jumping up and down with joy...

Dan Kennedy said...

Perhaps I wasn't clear about Oodle.com, although I thought the Globe was very clear.

You go to Oodle.com and search for something. If someone bought a classified ad in the Globe, it will pop up. If someone bought an ad in the Podunk Bugle, that will pop up, too.

If Oodle were to catch on, you might as well save yourself a pile of money by taking out an ad in the Bugle rather than the Globe, because it all looks the same to Oodle viewers.

The number of eyeballs seeing the ad in the print edition of the Globe will continue to matter - but only as long as the print edition itself matters. Classifieds, I think we all would agree, are uniquely suited to the Web, since searchability makes them much more useful.

John Galt said...

Oodle just another leech, one more attempt to get something for nothing. Leeching and porn very instrumental in perceived commercial success of Inet.

copy editor said...

Of course, if you work for the Podunk Bugle, Oodle might be great for business.

Anonymous said...

" Oodle just another leech, one more attempt to get something for nothing..."

or "one more attempt to aggregate info into a format that's maximally useful for readers."

I prefer the latter view.
But I bet they'll run into legal issues, as I did.
When I asked Craig of Craigslist if it was ok for me to put up the "hyperlocal" CL aggregator I'd written, which would provide a one-page list of links to my small distant town's CL posts, he said no.

Anna Haynes
ncfocus.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

When you thing of Oodle as something more like a search engine (which it seems to be), it makes a lot more sense that craigslist would not care.

Currently I cannot find any online classified site which charges to view ads. So their revenue/profit must be driven by something else entirely. If Oodle can give a classified site more clicks, I just don't see how that ends up being a bad thing. When, as appears to be the case, their revenue model is driven by something else entirely.