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McClatchy, a Groupon Partner, Starts Selling Its Own Daily Deals, Too

Will Still Use Groupon, but Becomes Latest Publisher to Try Social Coupon Game for Itself

By Published on . 8

After teaming up with Groupon to get daily deals on its websites last summer, McClatchy Co. has decided to also get into the business on its own.

McClatchy, the third-largest newspaper company, will not be breaking it off with Groupon, but it will launch its own deals service in April, bringing the two companies head-to-head. McClatchy gets 15% of revenue from Groupon deals, according to two people familiar with the business; on its own, McClatchy could collect as much as 50% from deals it sells and distributes, if it follows Groupon's model of splitting revenue with local merchants.

McClatchy, which owns newspapers including The Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee, is just the latest publisher to try its hand at serving readers Groupon-like daily deals -- following similar efforts from Freedom Communications, Meredith Corp., Hearst and The New York Times -- without relying on Groupon, which reportedly turned down a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google late last year.

Companies like Tippr, ReachLocal and Group Commerce have sprung up to help get publishers into the deals business. McClatchy is using white-label e-commerce and email tech from Second Street Media but will handle deals sales in-house. Other media companies, such as Meredith's Parents magazine, look to partners like Group Commerce for tech and to handle sales.

The McClatchy partnership with Groupon, which was announced last summer, meant Groupon's sales force sourced deals for McClatchy websites not available on Groupon.com. As it worked with Groupon, McClatchy watched, learned and was eventually able to train its sales reps to sell deals, according to Christian Hendricks, McClatchy's VP-interactive media.

Now McClatchy will serve readers both Groupon daily deals and its own. "There's no reason we can't continue our relationship [with Groupon]; the agreement allows us to do both," Mr. Hendricks said. "We will be in the same business."

Groupon said its work with McClatchy was widening. "Groupon and McClatchy's relationship is only getting stronger, with 21 markets live and nine added in the last two weeks," said Groupon spokeswoman Julie Mossler. "It's our understanding that they will begin to feature daily deals they've cultivated on their own, which is fine with us."

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