Boston Globe Joins Group-Buying Market

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The Boston Globe is going to go head-to-head with Groupon. The newspaper is launching a group-buying service. But Globe execs are not calling it Globeon — it’s called Boston Deals. The newspaper hopes tapping into that booming business will help it restore some of its falling advertising revenue. But is the Globe too late to the party?

Group-buying is where consumers can get discounted goods or services through online offers, such as deal-a-day emails. Groupon is the biggest, but Google is getting into the game. Others like LivingSocial, BuyWithMe and Eversave are based in Boston or started here. Now the Globe is adding its name to the list.

Chief Advertising Officer Lisa DeSisto said the Globe can make hay from its existing relationship with local merchants.

"They’ve been advertising in the Globe or on for years, but now we’re bringing them this group buying opportunity. We’re also out talking to new advertisers that want to reach people through this new, very popular marketing tool," DeSisto said.

Despite the crowded group-buying market, the Globe has something many of its of its competitors don’t: a built-in customer base, Globe subscribers. And Peter Krasilovsky, an analyst at the media research firm BIA/Kelsey, said not to forget the Globe’s popular website

"For instance, if they have a deal for skydiving, they can put it into their weekend calendar. That’s a tremendous reminder that goes well beyond opening your morning email," Krasilovsky said.

Krasilovsky said other newspapers have been successful at group-buying. The San Diego Union-Tribune outsells Groupon and LivingSocial in its market. But the California paper got into the game much earlier than this one in Massachusetts.

"Well, sure I wish we would have thought of it earlier! Yeah, it would have been nice to be first to market. But we still think we have an opportunity to be really competitive here," DeSisto said.

Among the deals the Globe will be offering in coming days: hot dogs at Sullivan’s on Castle Island.

This program aired on May 25, 2011.

Curt Nickisch Business & Technology Reporter
Curt Nickisch was formerly WBUR's business and technology reporter.



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