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The partnership between Yahoo and the Newspaper Consortium is an ambitious effort to bridge the gap between the online and print worlds. The two leaders of this partnership presented at the Interactive Local Media 2008 conference this morning, in a panel moderated by Peter Krasilovsky.

The panelists were Lem Lloyd, VP Newspaper Consortium at Yahoo, and Mike Silver, executive director of the Newspaper Consortium. They talked about how their two organizations are playing ball in the online space. As Lloyd put it, “This is just the first or second inning of [Yahoo] working with newspapers.” (Note that Yahoo is the primary partner of the Newspaper Consortium, but not the sole partner.)

This is a multifaceted relationship, in which newspapers:

  • Adopt Yahoo’s new Apt platform (“unifying digital advertising platform”). (The target is for 500 newspapers to be on Apt by the end of 2009.)
  • Participate in Yahoo’s HotJobs employment classifieds network.
  • Mingle ads placed by Yahoo with ads they’ve sold themselves.
  • Can target audiences using behavioral targeting tools provided by Yahoo.

Lloyd and Silver provided lots of solid reasons for this relationship:

  • There are some 800 newspapers in the consortium, with a total of about 15,000 local sales reps.
  • Although local newspapers have deep roots in their markets, Yahoo typically has a much larger reach.
  • Local is made out of “hundreds of verticals,” each with its own buying cycle. Yahoo is experienced in selling to verticals (e.g., real estate).
  • Although Yahoo has a huge number of users (500 million uniques per month, worldwide), it isn’t fully monetizing its potential ad impressions.

Silver acknowledged the “elbow grease” and “determination” that Yahoo is putting into this relationship. The ultimate goal, in Silver’s words, is for newspaper sales forces to become the “local digital marketing agency” for SMBs. (Maybe by the fifth or sixth inning?)

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