CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- In what's believed to be a first-of-its-kind arrangement in the struggling newspaper industry, Belo's Dallas Morning News has tapped rival publisher Tribune Co. to handle its national ad sales.
The move figures to let the Morning News dedicate its sales resources to the local market without completely turning its back on national ad sales, while Tribune's national-sales unit, called Tribune 365, gets to sweeten an offering that already includes the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and other papers, and pocket a few sales commissions in the process.
"This is an important step toward a more-efficient and better-equipped sales force for our company," Cyndy Carr, the Morning News' senior VP-sales, said in a statement. "Our sales team in Dallas will now be able to remain laser-focused on serving locally based advertisers while assisting Tribune 365 to best serve our national advertisers."
Outsourcing could become norm
Outsourcing of national ad sales to other publishers may catch on more widely as papers seek to control costs in ways that don't cost them ad revenue. Tribune 365 President Don Meek said the company is in talks with other publishers about similar arrangements and could announce another deal within 90 days, and as many as three more by the end of the year.
Mr. Meek said he expects partnerships such as this one to make national-newspaper ad buying easier. Newspapers are notoriously inefficient for national-advertising buyers, with different policies, deadlines and formats for print, and sometimes separate sales teams for digital and print properties, which has long frustrated would-be buyers.
Tribune moved to make its own properties simpler earlier this year when it merged its national print and national digital operations to create Tribune 365. "We need to make papers easier to buy and more user-friendly," Mr. Meek said.
Both Tribune and Belo, like all newspaper publishers, are under enormous financial pressure. Belo's first-quarter revenue fell 19.8%, while Tribune filed for bankruptcy protection in December.