The Austin American-Statesman is part of a new online auction called boocoo.com. It is a consortium of some 300 other newspapers nationwide and Ranger Data Technologies. Its purpose? To attack Ebay and combat Craig’s List.
Boocoo.com was supposed to go live June 14, but it is still “under construction” and available “on a restricted basis,” according to the site. The national launch is June 21, 2010.
“The real significance in this effort is the Statesman and newspapers nationwide are banding together to strike back at eBay who has abandoned the auction format in favor of ‘buy it now’ and virtual store fronts; most items are sold for close to retail,” says Michael Vivio, American-Statesman publisher. “If you look at eBay today you will hardly find private parties selling stuff to one another. Craigslist is vulnerable because of the high number of scam ads and spam. This will be an alternative.”
Once upon a time, not that long ago, the Austin American-Statesman’s classified advertising section was robust, filling page after page with category after category of stuff for sale. Now, it’s just a post-it not for what it used to be. Vivio said that he could not say how much classified advertising has been lost at the Statesman, but, he says, that’s not the point. “Merchandise was never a big revenue item, but it did attract eyeballs. This volume has moved to Craigslist and to sites like eBay and Autotrader.
The newspapers ads migrated to the web too, putting its employment ads into the hands of Yahoo’s “Hot Jobs” and sending many of its auto ads to “AutoTrader”.
The newspaper still offers free online ads if one wants to sell just one item. It’ll run seven days for free. Meantime, Craig’s List free ads are posted until you pull them down.
Similarly, “Microsoft and Google are betting that free classifieds will bring millions of people to their websites who then can be targeted for paid advertising,” according to CBS news (June 25, 2010). “Classified ad consultant Peter Zollman says to stay in business, newspapers that have lost hundreds of millions to craigslist must go online,” the report concluded.
“Print classified advertising revenue declined 70-percent in the last decade, from $19.6 billion in 2000 to an estimated $6-billion in 2009 according to Rick Edmonds, a media analysis for the Poynter Institute, a journalism and media think tank.
Web sites like www.reinventingclassifieds.com urge newspapers to think outside the box, and that is precisely what the American-Statesman appears to be doing.
“Boocoo.com was designed in part to regain revenue lost to online classified advertising and auction sites while giving consumers a secure and competitive alternative rich in local content,” said George Willard Sr., Chairman, CEO and Founder of Ranger Data Technologies. The eleven-year-old Royal Oak, Michigan-based company founded by the former newspaper publisher is best known for its classified advertising software systems.
“The Boocoo business model is based upon the licensing of ZIP codes to the media partners who will have exclusive rights to split transactional fees generated by the auction site. If the buyer and seller are from different ZIP codes, the media partners will share the fee. If they are both from the same ZIP code, the partner retains the entire share. There are plans to license all 29,735 ZIP codes in the country; already more than 20 percent have been licensed,” according to the AA/S release.
“Subscribers and viewers will receive a user name and password that will allow access and waive transaction fees for a week prior to the June 21 national launch when fees will be waived for all consumers for a minimum of two weeks,” the news release says.
“Listing fees range from 20-cents for items priced at $9.99 or less to $1.60 for items priced $200 and above. Boocoo charges sellers six percent of the final price, up to the first $1,000,” according to the American-Statesman.
Boocoo takes on eBay. Hmmmm. Boocoo who? It’s going to take more than an eight-column-inch story in the newspaper to launch this concept.
© Jim McNabb, 2010