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USA Today adds classifieds

The newspaper will expand its online marketplace to include classified advertising for jobs, real estate, and cars.

USA Today said today that it is expanding its online marketplace to include classified advertising for jobs, real estate, and cars--raising the stakes in the battle for tens of billions of local ad dollars.

USA Today's online marketplace debuted last November with a financial site. Now it includes partners such as AutoWeb, the Monster Board employment site, the National Association of Realtors, and Rent.Net apartment directory.

The Gannett-owned newspaper, whose online site reports twenty million hits from 450,000 people daily, faces cutthroat competition on all fronts The players include print and online newspapers, as well as regional publications such as Digital City, Yahoo, CitySearch, and Microsoft's newly launched Sidewalk.

Microsoft doesn't accept classified ads on Sidewalk, but its Expedia travel service and its CarPoint car-buying operation do, and they can be used through Sidewalk.

But many analysts say newspapers have an edge because of their established reader base and brand recognition.

The USA Today site will differ from others by creating an "integrated information center and marketplace" where consumers can make informed decisions about e-commerce, newspaper spokeswoman Allegra Young said. "We can allow people to make intelligent choices by having information at their fingertips," she said.