Cox Interactive, whose parent owns newspapers as well as television and radio stations nationally, said the online classified ads will both "protect and grow" the position of Cox newspapers. The classifieds, which will be rolled out in conjunction with Web sites that Cox operates in markets where it owns newspapers, first will launch in Atlanta. The cities of Austin; Dayton, Ohio; and West Palm Beach, Florida, will follow, with additional markets added by the middle of this year.
"Classified advertising is a significant revenue builder for newspapers, with more than $15 billion spent in 1996 alone," Jim Todesco, manager of classified development for Cox, said in a statement. "The Internet is also experiencing tremendous growth in this area."
Cox Interactive Media has mounted an aggressive foray onto the Web. Its network now includes 14 city sites and six specialty Web sites. It is joined by media companies such as Knight Ridder and Tribune Company.
Besides trying to tap new moneymaking opportunities, the newspaper companies are trying to protect their advertising turf. That is being invaded by newcomers to that field, such as Yahoo and Microsoft.
Cox's classified sites will include search engine capabilities, editorial content, and multimedia features such as online photos, video, and audio. Users also will be able to sign up to receive a daily email message when items they want become available.