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eBay shoppers: Read it and bid

The online auctioneer launches a new service that will connect local newspaper readers to its Internet marketplace, in an effort to further expand the company's reach.

    Online auctioneer eBay on Friday launched a new service that will connect local newspaper readers to its Internet marketplace, in an effort to further expand the company's reach.

    Called eBay Seller Classifieds, the new service allows sellers to advertise, for a fee, items in an eBay-branded section of newspaper classifieds. Sellers can include product descriptions, item numbers, and starting bid prices. The move comes as many Internet companies struggle to find new sources of revenues.

    The idea is that readers will find out about the items and then go online to bid and buy. The company said the new service, offered in Minneapolis-St. Paul's Star Tribune, is also expected to launch in Florida's St. Petersburg Times.

    eBay, based in San Jose, Calif., is testing out the service in the two markets before determining any future expansion plans.

    "This is a way for eBay to really expand its reach and bring in new buyers," said Jared Blank, an analyst with Jupiter Media Metrix. "Any way they can grow the number of people who are selling and buying things on eBay is always a smart move."

    Blank added the next step for eBay is to work on converting those potential buyers into actual sellers.

    The launch follows eBay's report of strong quarterly results.

    Just last month, the company impressed Wall Street with a string of good news and first-quarter earnings that met estimates. Though most Internet companies have stumbled with the slowing economy, eBay said it boosted its revenue forecast for the rest of the year, and that the overall downturn has not slowed its rate of growth.

    Beginning in May, when sellers list an item on eBay, they will also be given the option of advertising the item in a branded eBay sellers' section of a participating paper.

    For a special introductory price, sellers can include product information in their ads such as item number, title and starting bid prices. Potential buyers are then directed to go to the Web site to place the bid or to buy the advertised items. Pricing for the new service was not disclosed.

    eBay worked with AdStar.com to develop the service. The AdStar service collects the ads and distributes them to participating papers.