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NYTD's Job Market Working Hand-in-Hand with Offline

For some time now, online recruiting sites such as HotJobs.com and Monster.com have gleefully pilfered help wanted advertising away from newspapers' classified sections. But recently, newspapers have begun fighting back more aggressively, embracing the Internet wholeheartedly.

Few newspapers, however, have opted for the approach taken by the New York Times Company , which recently merged its print and digital recruiting efforts into one offering called Job Market.

Now, when readers reach for the help wanted section in the Sunday New York Times, they get the Job Market section, which is identical to the NYTimes.com's JobMarket section, which launched anew in January. New features online include sections devoted to job searches within vertical industries such as Education and Health Care. Within the newspaper's Money and Business section, a new Executive Life section offers content integrated with the online Job Market.

The approach reflects the newspaper's decision to incorporate, embrace even, what up until now has been the traditional enemy of many a newspaper's bread-and-butter revenues.

It's a bold and somewhat risky move for the newspaper and its brand, observers say. But it also could pay off if recruitment advertisers gravitate to packages that incorporate the precise targeting of online recruiting services with the breadth and reach of print.

Andy Wright, group director for recruitment at the New York Times, says a typical integrated ad package would incorporate a display ad in the newspaper's Money and Business section. That's where Michael Page International, the recruiting firm, ran an ad near the section's Executive Life feature, which includes columns and extra content of interest to executives.

On the Job Market site, meanwhile, the same advertiser is also featured prominantly on the front section; the same ad might follow the visitor around to other site sections in a "surround session" the newspaper's digital division is pioneering.

A "job wrap" feature also pulls some of the advertiser's jobs from its own recruiting Web site and lists them with jobs on the NYTD's job database under the keyword "marketing."

The same examples apply to a campaign currently running for the New York City administration, which is touting its workforce career centers in integrated ads in the print and online Job Market sections.

The advertisers get an active job seeker (online) but also reach the passive job seeker, such as executives reading the section who may stumble across the ad, says Wright. "That's the beauty of it, the active and passive reach the ad buys them. That's not something the competition online can claim."

It also gives the recruiting division some flexibility in pricing the ads, which comes in handy in a tough economy. Prices range from about $275 for an online job listing, to about $25,000 for a month-long run as a "commercial" ad on the site's main Job Market section. Printed job ads start around $500 and can go as high as the advertiser wants.

And after a particularly brutal year for any kind of advertising, the winds of the marketplace appear to be blowing in the Times' favor.

Since January when the new features launched, traffic on the Job Market site has doubled to just over 10 million visitors a month, according to Web measurement firm Media Metrix. On the print side, circulation has increased to 1.2 million for the daily, up 3.8 percent, and to 1.7 million for the Sunday New York Times, up by 2.4 percent, which the newspaper calls the largest six-month jump in over a decade.

Every bit helps, especially when an online medium threatens to eat into a classified base that generally accounts for one third to even half of newspapers' revenues. Internet research firm Jupiter Media Metrix estimates that classifieds comprise up to 50 percent of a newspaper's revenue, but are almost always responsible for a much larger share of the company's profits. Martin Nisenholtz, the chief executive of The New York Times Digital, has said about a third of the unit's revenues come from a mix of classified marketplaces and direct e-mail.

Jupiter also expects online classified spending in general to hit about $900 million this year and grow to about $1.8 billion four years from now. By then, an estimated 75 percent of the adult online population will be viewing classifieds online, up from about 53 percent this year.

And although cannibalization of their classifieds base is an accepted condition among newspapers taking job listings online, Jeff Moriarty, director of operations for classifieds at The New York Times Digital, prefers a different view.

Moriarty estimates that 80 percent of the online Job Market's half a million registered users do not subscribe to the newspaper. Instead, the online Job Market section is reaching a new, younger segment of readers who are viewing a site built on and leveraged by the Times' print brand.

It's a bold move, says David Morgan, a former attorney for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association and a veteran of digital media launches.

"If @Jobs Digital were to do this as a division of NYTimes.com and flops, it would be just that section that goes. But if the NYTimes.com/JobMarket flops, well they've put their brand out in front," says Morgan, who now heads up database software company Tacoda Systems, Inc. in New York.

"Not many traditional media companies have done that. Most have altered their online ventures in order to give them a degree of deniability" if the online version doesn't work.

"So it's making a sort of a statement, 'that we want to be here for the next generation of readers,' and providing advertisers/recruiters with a pipeline of prospects. They have the brand, audience and loyalty to pull this off," says Morgan.

Jupiter might also call the strategy another example of coop-etition: national classifieds online exploiting newspapers' local sales forces to bring in revenue and local newspapers cementing their advertiser relationships by offering more regional or national reach.

Says the research firm: "Because classifieds are such a critical part of a newspaper's balance sheet, securing a classifieds franchise both online and offline is the most important job a newspaper can undertake."