Let the Star Tribune’s new e-commerce era begin: CarSoup partnership

I know startribune.com’s ads set new records for intrusiveness, and they’re probably not something you’re all that anxious to read about. But the new partnership with CarSoup.com is new ownership’s first big e-commerce move, and could be the start of a revenue rebound.

Basically, the Strib will dump its proprietary web platform and incorporate a market-leading outsider’s. CarSoup hitches a ride on the Strib’s 85 million monthly page views — and gets the Strib’s sales force, which become CarSoup’s in the auto category.

For a newspaper that obviously couldn’t beat ’em, it makes sense to join ’em, even if the car business remains a sick one. Newspapers have been lousy e-commerce innovators. Maybe the new Strib dudes will eventually gin up products on their own, but in established categories, it makes sense to partner.

One question is whether benefits really will fall to the bottom line. Journal Communications, a public company which publishes the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, just announced lower revenue following a CarSoup deal. Or, as the company put it, “revenue from automotive online classifieds was negatively impacted by our daily newspaper’s transition to a new franchise relationship with CarSoup.com.”

Fox9 is CarSoup’s original media partner; they remain very much in the picture. But that’s mostly for TV exposure; the Strib’s inclusion shows they’re the media leader in the print and web spaces. The deal also showcases the obvious: classified revenue ain’t coming back, and search rules.

I’ll talk to the principals today to further assess the significance.

CarSoup.com and Star Tribune Create Online and Sales Partnership

MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 12, 2009)– The Star Tribune and CarSoup.com, two local market leaders in automotive advertising services, have entered into a partnership agreement designed to leverage the two companies’ strengths in the Twin Cities market.

CarSoup.com, which connects buyers and sellers of car and power sports recreational vehicles through its state-of- the-art website, will become the Star Tribune’s automotive web platform, replacing the current StarTribune.com/cars site. In turn, the Star Tribune will become the local sales arm for CarSoup.com products and services in the Twin Cities metro area for both dealership and for-sale-by-owner advertising.

Under the terms of the partnership, beginning Dec. 1, 2009, consumers will be able to access CarSoup.com vehicle listings and products through StarTribune.com, as well as through KMSP-TV’s Myfox9.com and CarSoup.com directly. CarSoup.com offers consumers extensive new and used vehicle search capabilities, service coupons and specials from local businesses, vehicle research data and financing pre-approval options.

“We are very excited about the potential of this partnership,” said Jamie Flaws, vice president of classified advertising at the Star Tribune. “The Star Tribune benefits from CarSoup’s well-known brand, outstanding technology and exceptional automotive website, and CarSoup benefits from the Star Tribune’s strong sales force, promotional power and extensive market reach.”

“This is a natural pairing of two great brands, “said Larry Cuneo, founder of CarSoup.com and president of the Cuneo Communications Group. “We fully expect that both CarSoup and Star Tribune will grow market share as we work together to expand user and advertiser relationships.”

CarSoup.com was founded in the Twin Cities in 1998 and is ranked among the top 15 Minnesota e-commerce companies. It now operates in 40 states and serves more than 20 million page views monthly.

The Star Tribune and StarTribune.com combined reach more than two-thirds of the Twin Cities market over the course of a month. StarTribune.com is the leading local news and information website in the market, with more than 85 million page views and almost six million unique visitors monthly.

 

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Brian Elfert on 11/12/2009 - 04:46 pm.

    Cars.com is owned in part by McClatchy. No doubt Star Tribune was forced to use cars.com under previous ownership.

    Carsoup.com is my last choice when looking for a vehicles. I don’t understand how they have the largest market share. I use autotrader.com and cars.com because carsoup.com’s inventory lags far behind.

    One problem with all online car classifieds is duplication. I don’t think more than 50% of the listings on any one site are unique. Car dealers will list the same vehicle on multiple sites.

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