Village Voice vying to take back classifieds

Weekly turns daily, and fights for online local ads

Entrepreneur interview by Ezra Roizen
October 29, 2008
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The Village Voice has been around for 41 years, and for the latter part of the last century dominated the local advertising and classified market in New York.  It was a weekly newspaper that survived on advertising. But these days, the Village Voice, which is comprised of 15 newspapers and five national blogs has watched Craigslist and Yelp, as well as Topix, and other online sites encroach on its bread and butter – the local market.

Moreover, the economic downturn has pummeled offline ad dollars.  Village Voice’s is stepping up it’s online, albeit local-focused efforts.

While at the Digital Hollywood conference in Hollywood, I caught up with Bill Jensen, director of new media of Village Voice, and asked him about the challenges of going head to head with the new yet powerful online giants.

“The key is – we had to go daily,” said Bill. “That was the biggest challenge – changing the culture to go from weekly to daily.” Today, each city has 30 pieces of daily content, consisting of next-day concert reviews, and slide shows as well as stories. Unlike Topix, whose content is created by users, Village Voice Media has staffers and freelancers.

Bill was at Digital Hollywood to speak on a panel about how entertainment and celebrity coverage was changing online. On his panel were Vator CEO Bambi Francisco, Sybil Goldman, general manager at Yahoo Entertainment, David McMahon, director of digital at NBC Universal, Tyler Goldman, CEO of Buzznet, Adam Curry, president and co-founder of Mevio, and Todd Gold, managing editor of Comcast Interactive Media’s Fancast. (See related story about Buzznet and how its dealing with the ad downturn.)

Bill also talked about how his company has changed the way it sells advertising online vs offline.

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