AOL to use CrossMedia Services in new Shopping Search

Pamela Parker gets the scoop the other big outlets missed in announcing AOL’s new Shopping Search offering. In addition to providing the online comparison shopping services that everyone has already reported, AOL will also return local offline “steals and deals” from local businesses (and local points of presence for regional and national chains) in its shopping search results. The offline deals come from digitized and parsed zoned editions of the circulars that appear in the newspaper

I hinted at this before, but thought it wiser to let someone else break it given my involvement in the deal and relationships with both players.

This is a significant development; it is the first comparison shopping engine that marries both online and offline channels, satisfying consumer needs for the great prices and instant gratification, and driving traffic for physical stores.

Further, as I wrote when we did the CrossMedia (CMS) deal, while this isn’t “the next Google”, it is a major move for the papers… First, that they are involved in search at all (remember, we’re talking about companies with a very different mindset), and second that they are licensing local shopping content to major players like AOL (and billing on a performance basis).

Hats off to the teams at AOL, CMS, Knight Ridder, Gannett and Tribune for a smart deal. Now comes the real challenge; can you (the papers) drive traffic to your own site, and can you build off this strategy with other smart offerings and acquisitions? Time will tell…

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