Bloomberg, as part of a plan to increase its advertiser base, is adding electronic commerce to its Web site.
The company launches Bloomberg Loan Center March 29, an area accessible through Bloomberg's general news site. It is the result of a partnership with LendingTree, a Charlotte, N.C.-based online loan site that connects buyers and lenders.
LendingTree struck a similar deal last fall with electronic commerce site Priceline.com.
Bloomberg's deal with LendingTree is an example of "evolved advertising," said Marc Johnson, senior analyst at Jupiter Communications. The deal represents a growing industry belief "that straight advertising alone is not going to cut it."
"Adding functionality and taking that to consumers makes a lot more sense," Mr. Johnson said.
Bloomberg is promoting the loan center through a $200,000 to $400,000 radio campaign developed in-house that breaks today. Depending on the success of the radio spots, it might expand the campaign to its magazine, proprietary news terminals and Bloomberg Television, a 24-hour cable business network.
The three-year, multimillion-dollar deal with LendingTree is more than a sponsorship. The arrangement enables Bloomberg.com to offer its visitors loan procurement through an area identified as "powered by LendingTree."
"This is a new model of advertising that signifies we are willing to work with advertisers," said Mimi Capalaces, Bloomberg.com advertising manager.
The partnership, inked March 3, expands LendingTree's pool of potential customers.
"We have a unique user base of 3.8 million that [LendingTree] wants access to," Ms. Capalaces said. People who would access the loan center "are an audience predisposed to shopping for a loan."
Bloomberg.com has some catching up to do. Most competitors have been involved in e-commerce through integrated sponsorships for some time. In traffic, it ranks fifth as a business and finance news site behind Yahoo! Finance, CNN/fn, Quicken.com and Motley Fool, according to Internet Profiles Corp.
The partnership presents an opportunity to expand LendingTree's distribution, said Mitchell York, president of the loan site.
"We would hope to have other, future marketing relationships" to "extend LendingTree's franchise as the premier loan origination engine on the Web," Mr. York said.
CONTENT, FUNCTIONALITY SWAPPED
Under the partnership, Bloom-berg provides content in the loan center, such as tips about shopping for a home equity loan. LendingTree provides some functionality on Bloomberg Loan Center, such as calculators to determine monthly payments, for example. But consumers will submit loan qualification forms electronically at LendingTree's site.
Bloomberg.com can tout itself as a more robust information source for consumers.
"This [partnership] is an added value for our consumers," Ms. Capalaces said. "It creates a stickiness of content. Our goal is to extend the amount of time consumers spend on our Web site."
Copyright March 1999, Crain Communications Inc.