Michigan-Based Site Boocoo.com Thinks It’s Found a Way to Compete with Craigslist and eBay…and Save Your Local Newspaper
Since Monday, if you’ve paid close attention, you might have noticed a goofy-sounding phrase in your Boston Herald or San Diego Union-Tribune: “Boocoo Auctions.” It comes from a Royal Oak, MI, based company called Ranger Data Technologies and is part of an ambitious plan to take lost advertising revenue back from Craigslist and eBay.
But, as President and COO Tony Marsella puts it, this is no cocktail-napkin dot-com idea. It comes from seasoned veterans of the newspaper industry. The CEO, George Willard Sr., has 41 years in the industry, from his days as a pressman in the early ’60s to his founding of the Mirror chain of Detroit suburban weeklies in the ’90s. His son, George Willard Jr., senior vice president of operations, has worked in newspapers for 14 years, and Marsella is a 30-year veteran of newspaper classified ad sales.
“So, this isn’t a website that was created by a bunch of software guys in a garage to try and then sell it to the newspaper business,” Marsella says.
“One of the reasons that we were able to amass this network of media companies is the fact that we all have a real solid understanding of what the newspaper business is, where it is, and what we thought, and continue to think, are solutions to help newspapers drive more revenue.”
The “network” so far is more than 280 newspapers or broadcast outlets that have licensed more than 6,000 Zip codes from Ranger Data, or about 20 percent of the nation’s nearly 30,000 Zip codes. The media sites buy the exclusive rights to Boocoo auction customers in those Zip codes. The auctions are promoted in the physical newspaper, but the transactions, themselves, happen online. Transactional revenue from every consumer in that Zip code who purchases an item or service is split between Ranger Data and the newspaper.
Boocoo.com had a soft launch on May 31 with just families, friends, and employees of participating newspapers. Only they could place items up for bid. The service launched nationwide on Monday. Among Boocoo’s partners are the Cox Newspaper chain—which includes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Palm Beach Post, and a number of dailies in Ohio—the San Diego Union-Tribune, Boston Herald, Chicago Sun-Times, and others.
This long reach into local markets, for starters, is why Boocoo believes it has an edge … Next Page »