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MSNBC steps into classifieds

Traditionally the mainstay of print, classifieds are becoming a bigger source of online revenue, as more sites look to go local.

Internet news portal MSNBC has pulled in a group of Web partners, including eBay, to launch a classifieds site.

The site, which debuted Monday, features local classified ads for jobs, real estate, travel, cars, personals and merchandise. The site will have ties to partners CareerBuilder.com, Cars.com, eBay, HomeGain.com, Match.com and Expedia.

Internet companies have tried several times to break into the classifieds market, traditionally the mainstay of newspapers. eBay, for example, last week picked up a 25 percent stake in Craigslist, an online classifieds site for local goods and services in 45 cities, for an undisclosed sum.

Web giants such as Yahoo and Google also have recently turned their attention to tapping local revenues. They are looking to give their booming Web search technologies a better way to target local businesses to sell more regional ads.

Earlier this month, Yahoo and AskJeeves announced that they had partnered to create a site that could pull information from yellow pages, maps and directions, and reviews in a user's neighborhood. Google in March began testing a service that allows people to type in keywords followed by an address or city to retrieve maps, local business listings and Web sites.

The MSNBC site was launched in 1996 as part of a joint venture between Microsoft and General Electric's NBC. The software giant at that time made moves into online content to bolster its Internet businesses, such as its Internet Explorer Web browser and its MSN Internet service provider. However, Microsoft has largely exited the content creation business and is focusing more on Web services.