June 13, 2010

New web auction has local flair

MaineToday Media will launch its Boocoo.com site Monday with a special offer for early users.

By STEPHANIE HARDIMAN Staff Writer

MaineToday Media will launch a new auction site Monday on Boocoo.com, a partner of nearly 300 media outlets set to offer online auctions similar to eBay.

"Our plan is to offer a unique but very easy to understand approach to online auctions," said Michelle Lester, vice president of advertising for MaineToday. "It will be easy for beginners as well as power users to adapt to the new offering."

Like other online auction sites, a percentage of an item's sale price goes to the website host, though fees will be waived briefly for early users. Subsequently, profits will be split between MaineToday and Boocoo owner Ranger Data Technologies Inc. in Royal Oak, Mich.

Lester preferred not to disclose the specifics of the contract, which was signed in February.

"We could see right away it was a really sound business model and that it offered readers a different way to use our services, gave them more flexibility," Lester said.

The site is "a national database with a local flair," that could take on eBay and Craigslist, said Tony Marsella, the president of Ranger Data Technologies.

Newspapers such as the Austin American-Statesman and the Boston Herald have signed on to launch Boocoo on Monday along with MaineToday's newspapers: The Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville.

linking with media companies, the site will be able to offer a community partner that Marsella feels is missing from other online auction sites where users might get away with less credible posts.

While Boocoo.com is a new venture, auction sites are not new to media companies. The Tennessean Media Group, the publishing company of The Tennessean in Nashville, began its online auction site TheHaggleSpot.com in July 2009.

"It's been good for us," said Daphne Lowell, the business-to-business marketing manager at The Tennessean. She said the site is still in its growing stages, and the company is seeing the returns of recent increased marketing.

Starting Monday, a link to Boocoo from MaineToday newspaper websites will be available. Users can create an account to buy, sell or request goods and services.

Lester said the site won't replace traditional classified ads in the newspaper.

"It's really about giving consumers choices. It's really about evolving, changing and adapting" to new forms of technology, she said.

Users from other online auction sites can also carry their buyer and seller ratings to Boocoo with them, Marsella said.

MaineToday will be the state's exclusive Boocoo partner.

The national launch of Boocoo actually starts June 21, but MaineToday Media users can access the site starting this Monday by using special user names and passwords that allow them to temporarily waive transaction fees.

Users can access the site by going to pressherald.boocoo.com and entering a user name of presshersuntel and a password of boocoorocks. 

Stephanie Hardiman can be contacted at 791-6301 or at:

shardiman@pressherald.com

 

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