CareerBuilder Snatches MSN

On the heels of beating out Monster for jobs postings on AOL , CareerBuilder scored another victory on Tuesday by inking a five-year deal with Microsoft’s MSN .

CareerBuilder will provide the content for the MSN Careers channel, which was previously the province of rival Monster. CareerBuilder boasts 400,000 job listings from 25,000 employers. The deal will begin on January 2004 and is valued at $150 million over five years.

The MSN deal is the second major agreement in as many days for CareerBuilder, which yesterday announced that it would displace Monster on AOL in a four-year deal valued at $115 million. Now, the online recruitment site has gained significant distribution and momentum in its fight against Monster in the online job listings market. Yahoo!, which owns HotJobs, will be the only portal of the top three not to carry CareerBuilder listings.

Monster has provided job listings on MSN since inking a deal in November 2001. The company reported early last year that the deal had significantly increased traffic to its site.

While the loss of both AOL and MSN are blows to Monster, the site already enjoys broad brand recognition and direct traffic to its own site. In June, it led careers sites in traffic with 18.1 million unique users, according to comScore Media Metrix. Monster said about a quarter of that traffic came via AOL and MSN.

Monster said it chose not to renew the partnerships with AOL and MSN since its advertisers were not interested in more traffic but better targeting. The company said it would spend an additional $50 million over the next year on local and national marketing to reinforce its already strong brand awareness.

“The world has changed a great deal since 1999,” said Jeff Taylor, Monster’s chief executive, in a statement. “While working with AOL and MSN played an integral role in establishing Monster as the online recruitment leader, we are now focused on implementing multiple marketing strategies on the national and local levels to attract a more highly targeted audience.”

Deutsche Bank analyst Jeetil Patel agreed, saying that ending the deals, which were struck during the Internet bubble, significantly improved Monster’s marketing flexibility.

“Monster may have already extracted all of the value from these portals’ audiences and the online recruitment industry appears more focused on job postings (i.e. revenues) rather than eyeballs,” Patel wrote in a research note.

CareerBuilder, meanwhile, is gambling that the deals will allow it to close the gap with Monster and HotJobs in attracting those eyeballs.

“We see our relationship with MSN as the best opportunity to significantly increase our traffic and our overall business through its distribution and online services,” Bob Montgomery, CareerBuilder’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Top newspaper companies Knight Ridder, Tribune, and Gannett have equal ownership stakes in Reston, Va.-based CareerBuilder. Gannett joined Knight Ridder and Tribune in October 2002, as newspaper companies saw the threat of online job boards like Monster and HotJobs stealing one of the largest sources of revenues for offline newspapers: classifieds. CareerBuilder has tried to fashion itself as a local answer for job searching needs.

According to the most recent online advertising forecast from Jupiter Research, online recruitment was worth $616 million last year and will grow steadily to be a $1.2 billion market by 2008. (Jupiter Research is owned by the parent company of this Web site.)

While Monster’s own site has significant reach and HotJobs enjoys distribution via Yahoo!, CareerBuilder is building on its base of 130 newspaper partners. After trailing Monster, the company has become more assertive, launching a wide-ranging ad campaign at the end of last year to compete with the big ad budgets of Monster and HotJobs. Both Monster and HotJobs aired commercials during the Super Bowl for the fifth straight year.

The deal furthers MSN strategy of populating its portal with content from partners, including Expedia, ESPN and MSNBC.

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