Friday, February 15, 2008

Once more, with feeling

It's being announced today that Hearst, Gannett, the Tribune Company, and the New York Times Company are joining forces to launch the oddly named "quadrantONE," an online ad agency that will distribute ads out to all of the company's papers (though not the big ones like USA Today or the New York Times, because apparently that would make too much sense or something).

The goal of the company is to "to let national advertisers place ads on local Web sites with a single phone call," which is an admirable idea, but it ignores the fact that most of the money coming out of web advertising isn't from national advertisers, but instead from small classified-style ads matched to page content.

It's not the first attempt to do something like this: "The effort is at least the third in the last decade involving major newspaper companies joining forces to sell online ads."

In fact...

Several of the newspapers involved in quadrantONE are part of Yahoo’s newspaper consortium, which provides advertising technologies and sales, and all of the companies are partial owners of the Newspaper National Network, a network that allows national advertisers to place ads across thousands of papers’ print editions and, more recently, Web sites. The companies were also all part of the New Century Network in the late 1990s, which failed.

That's a lot of attempts, none of which seem to have panned out. So how is this one different?

Executives at the newspaper companies said quadrantONE will fare differently because it will have a central repository of advertising inventory, and thus will not have to call the newspapers individually to fill each order.

Why doesn't that fill me with confidence that they'll pull this off?