PowerOne Media Goes to The Chop Shop

PowerOne Media, formed by the merger of AdOne and PowerAdz in 1999, was poised to be the small papers’ Classified Ventures. But PowerOne Media was beset by tech problems, management problems and tough competition from the likes of Adicio (CareerCast), HarvestInfo, Morris Digital Works and TownNews. It also suffered from the internal conflicts and usual lack of commitment of its owners.

What to do? For the newspaper owners, Option A was to reinvest in PowerOne. Option B was to take it to the chop shop, extracting whatever value it could.

By last summer, it seemed fairly obvious that Option B was the owners’ route. Finally, on Feb.15, PowerOne announced it was selling off its Zwire portal, national advertising, Adquest and Yellow Pages units to TownNews, the small paper vendor that is 83 percent owned by Lee Enterprises.

Hey Jeeves! Should IAC Put CitySearch Under Ask?

Ask Local is a big component of IAC’s relaunch of Ask, and it should be, given the tons of quality local reviews, ratings, listings and other content that IAC’s CitySearch has to provide. Theoretically, it gives Ask a leg up over the other portals – and IAC Head Barry Diller has said as much.

But a question I’d put to the butler is why IAC doesn’t formally put CitySearch under the Ask umbrella. CitySearch, after all, has pretty good traffic from Google, MSN and other affiliates, reaching 14 million unique viewers, according to ComScore. But it isn’t much of a brand, and it is unlikely to spend money to become one.

Probably, CitySearch could benefit from the massive amount of promotion that Ask is about to receive. After all, wasn’t it good when AOL retired Digital City to focus on AOL Local? Wasn’t it good that Yahoo decided to put everything under Yahoo Local instead of building Yahoo Yellow Pages, Yahoo Local Search etc.?

Tribune’s Recycler: Back to the Drawing Board

Recycler.com, The Tribune Co’s erstwhile Craigslist killer, is going back to the drawing board, having suffered mediocre sales and usage since expanding to 14 markets in May 2005.

“If you build a model that assumes revenue from upsells and sponsor link revenue, you’ll be disappointed,” said Tom Finke, director of corporate development at Tribune Interactive, in comments blogged by Rob Runett at the NAA Connections conference in Orlando February 20-22.

To be sure, Tribune basically kept the formula that made The Recycler a success: free ads for consumers, and cheap $8 ads for corporate entities, with lots of upsells. Online, however, hasn’t worked. The combination of Craigslist’s free offerings, unfamilarity with the product outside of LA, and the absence of a complementary (and revenue generating) print product has hurt Tribune’s expansionary efforts. This despite extensive promotion in the print paper, deep integration with Tribune Interactive’s verticals, including Cars.com, apartments.com and ShopLocal; and a neat feature allowing users to compare ads posted on other websites.