Zillow.com, newspaper publishers form advertising network

Real estate Web site Zillow.com and 11 major newspaper companies have formed an online real estate advertising network.

In total, 282 newspapers nationwide are represented in the deal through which sales teams for both Zillow and the newspaper companies will offer each other’s premium advertising inventory to their respective client bases. The focuses will be on home buying, selling and home-related commerce.

Local newspaper advertisers will be able to reach Zillow’s national audience of more than 5 million unique visitors each month. Advertisers can also target visits to specific ZIP codes, neighborhoods or individual homes. Meanwhile, Zillow’s advertisers gain access to the local audiences visiting real estate sections of the newspapers’ Web sites.

“This partnership allows advertisers with our papers to reach not only local real estate consumers who live in particular markets, but also consumers who may be moving to particular markets, via their searches on Zillow.com,” said Lincoln Millstein, SVP of Hearst Newspapers, one of the participating newspaper companies, in a statement. “This is a significant opportunity for advertisers to target a very large number of consumers on the verge of major home-related commerce.”

The partnership is another example of how newspapers are trying to regain their footing, after being hit hard by the growth of online classifieds. According to the Newspaper Association of America, print classified revenue dropped almost 25% in the first quarter of 2008 to a total of $2.5 billion. It was the largest quarterly decline for the category since 1971. Other attempts on the industry’s part include launching widgets specific to a vertical such as automobiles or jobs.

The new Zillow Advertising Network extends the partnership with the publishing companies announced in November 2007. That partnership enabled real estate classified advertisers to also purchase featured listings and open house advertisements on Zillow. The newspaper companies participating in the ad network include Hearst Newspapers, Lee Enterprises Inc., Media General Inc., MediaNews Group Inc., Morris Communications Co., Philadelphia Media Holdings and The EW Scripps Company.

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