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Help Wanted on Google Base

Tinsley and other advertisers such as San Francisco-based real estate broker James Wavro say that they like the idea of Google Base because it doesn't cost them anything and may offer them a chance to get added exposure for their listings. But that doesn't necessarily mean that Google Base has won their loyalty. Indeed, both Tinsley and Wavro also are going to look at Microsoft's planned service. Wavro also will continue to advertise on craigslist, where he says he was one of the first customers.

"We would never do one over the other," said Wavro in an interview. "Quite frankly, anyone that's savvy enough to afford an apartment in San Francisco is using the Internet to find housing."

Google Base demonstrates that even powerful, popular companies don't immediately succeed at everything that they do. Google's other nonsearch services, including Gmail, also lag behind their competitors. The development comes as the company jockeys with rivals such as Yahoo! (YHOO) for position in the evolving Internet advertising business.

Cars.com, a cars listing site owned by six newspaper publishers, is taking a wait-and-see approach to the Google service because it isn't sure about Google's intentions, says Mitch Golub, the company's president.

"It may be a good idea for Cars.com depending on the quality of the product," he says. "One of the fears that some classified partners are voicing is that Google wants to build a listings and content product."

Weichert Realtors also continues to monitor the development of Google Base.

"Weichert Realtors has an extremely comprehensive and progressive Internet marketing strategy and we are always looking for new ways to get more exposure for our customers' listings," said Lynda Beighley, a spokeswoman for the company, which has more than 17,000 sales associates in over 370 company-owned and franchised sales offices.

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