December 18, 2013 Last Updated 12:10 pm

Boston Globe inks deal with CarGurus.com to power its new and used car searches

As a former CAM (classified advertising manager for the uninitiated), anything that has to do with the auto, real estate or recruitment categories is red meat for me. So the news that the Boston Globe, recently set free from the NYT, would be partnering with CarGurus.com was of interest.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 11.48.49 AMStarting in the New Year, CarGurus.com will be powering the new and used car searches for Boston.com.

“Although CarGurus has a national footprint, we are based in Boston so we are especially thrilled to partner with Boston.com,” Martha Blue, Vice President of Business Development at CarGurus said in the announcement. “CarGurus offers Boston.com’s users a smarter, more efficient way to shop for a car, and for auto dealers, this translates to more opportunities to connect with shoppers. Boston.com has such significant influence in this market, and we are excited about the opportunities ahead.”

The CEO of CarsGuru.com is Langley Steinert, who was co-founder of TripAdvisor. No doubt Steinert would like to build a community at his new venture as popular as his previous venture.

The deal with Boston.com is similar to that created by newspapers many years ago at Classified Ventures in that the Globe will feed ads and readers to CarsGuru.com and visa versa. It is a sign that while newspapers are still vehicles for classified advertising, they no longer have the power they once did.

Many media observers, who must in diapers when web publishing first started, like to point to the Internet and Craig’s List for the troubles seen by classified advertising departments. That’s far too simple.

Back in the ’80s car shoppers and real estate tabloids began to appear and newspapers were very hesitant to do anything that might take away from their classified ad sections, which were brimming with ads. The answer, many thought, was to create automotive sections, usually on Fridays, that would contain editorial. Many papers still have them.

That didn’t help, and probably caused more harm than good as the occasional honest story would appear in them, leading to a revolt by auto dealers. The real problem was that better and cheaper solutions – those auto traders – were growing up and taking away the business. Often the ads were free, sometimes merely cheap, but with the ability to have pictures of the cars affordably included.

The web could have actually saved classifieds for many newspapers as the local paper was in a far better position to build out a site than those trader publications. But, again, the issue was doing anything that would detract from this classified ad sections. Craig’s List, which was still an email service in 1996, long past the time that the die had been cast. Craig Newmark, seen from the perspective of a former CAM, was less an innovator than someone who simply was filling a need that newspapers were too afraid to service.

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