NAA Task Force Unveils Classified Ad Exchange Standard

NAA Task Force Unveils Classified Ad Exchange Standard

ORLANDO, Florida. January 11, 1998.

The Newspaper Association of America's (NAA) Classified Advertising Standards Task Force has introduced a common format that allows classified ad publishers, advertisers and online enterprises to readily exchange and publish classified ads.

The standard will be unveiled tomorrow by task force Chairman Jack H. Stanley, Houston Chronicle senior vice president/operations and technology, during NAA's Newspaper Operations SuperConference at the Hilton at Walt Disney World Village in Orlando.

"This is a very exciting development for online classified ads, especially those published by newspapers," noted NAA President and CEO John F. Sturm. "The ability to exchange hundreds of classified ads online brings a dramatic leap in service for the reader and value for the advertiser. The online classified ad standard will give newspapers a new level of search sophistication, as well as creating expanded potential for new and existing revenue models."

While classified advertising looks similar in many publications, each handles the ads a little differently. There are no uniform rules for what information should or should not be included about any given product. Nor has there been any overwhelming need for such rules in the past. With the advent of the Internet, however, many publishers, including newspapers, offer their classifieds on the World Wide Web. Many of these same publishers are seeking to aggregate their ads with those of others in order to offer advertisers and readers a very wide reach. To share ads and make them searchable, a common format and structure is needed so they can be easily added to a database, regardless of their origin.

"Adopting a standard format for processing ads unleashes the enormous power of classified advertising in hundreds of newspapers across the country," said Eric Wolferman, NAA's senior vice president for technology. "Reaching agreement on this standard so swiftly is a remarkable achievement."

The standard addresses classified advertising from the time it is placed -- either through a traditional ad taker or directly from the advertiser electronically. Standard information sets, global tracking numbers and common descriptions of the data will allow easy sharing and organizing of classifieds in any medium or classified network. Though all the information may not appear in a print ad, the additional information collected will allow it to be fully searchable on the Internet.

There are four components that will allow ads to be used on multiple networks and network appliances, as well as increase opportunities for aggregation. The four components are a standard data format, a standard transaction format, standard text-formatting tags and standard shorthand. Version 1.0 of the standard addresses the standard data format and standard text-formatting tags. Later versions will address the other components as the standard evolves.

The standard is represented electronically through a document type definition, or DTD, a virtual road map for classifieds. The DTD has a set of elements, or fields, which describe the product being sold. Some of the fields -- such as name and other contact information -- are required elements, and many more are recommended, giving publishers the standard information they need, while also allowing advertisers to be flexible.

The DTD is built using the XML markup language, allowing it to be easily modified. It is free and available for download from NAA's Web site. The only costs to users will be implementation.

The NAA's Classified Advertising Standards Task Force includes 40 representatives from classified, technical and new media operations, as well as new media technology providers, classified system suppliers and large classified advertisers.

Sponsors of NAA's 1999 SuperConference are: AGFA; Dynaric, Inc.; GMA; Goss Graphic Systems, Inc.; Greensleeves; Heidelberg Web Systems; KBA, North America; K&F Printing Systems International; MAN Roland Inc.; Monotype Systems, Inc.; Quark Marketing Inc.; Quipp Systems Inc.; Total Mailroom Support; and Xerox Corp.

NAA is a nonprofit organization representing the $51-billion newspaper industry and more than 1,700 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. Most NAA members are daily newspapers, accounting for 87 percent of the U.S. daily circulation. Headquartered in Tysons Corner (Vienna, Va.), the Association focuses on five key strategic priorities that affect the newspaper industry collectively: marketing, public policy, diversity, industry development and newspaper operations. Information about NAA and the industry may also be found at the Association's World Wide Web site on the Internet (

SOURCE: Newspaper Association of America


Debra Gersh Hernandez
Director of Public Relations
Tel: (703) 902-1737

[Note: See also the local database entry, Newspaper Association of America (NAA) - Classified Ads Format.]