This morning a news headline passed through my feed reader, and caught my eye. McClatchy, publishers of my oft-criticized yet still dear to my heart Miami Herald, signed a deal with …wait for it… Groupon. Yes THAT groupon.

So what was the impetus behind this deal? Couldn’t McClatchy have started their OWN social shopping service? Don’t they have their own ad sales people with rolodexes FILLED with business contacts? sidenote: I mean seriously folks, if you were looking for local sales people, those people would be GOLDEN, they’ve been selling to local businesses for years. Anyway, it ultimately boils down to affiliate commissions. They are the low-hanging fruit of the deal, so McClatchy can monetize their pages slightly more, with little overhead to do so.

Sounds like a smart deal on the surface. Very little work on McClatchy’s side, reasonable upside from ad revenue being better than the remnants they sell now, and groupon gets tons of traffic, tons of new subscribers (not their typical users I’m guessing). So its a win-sorta-win for all parties involved.

This particular deal isn’t the interesting part of this post, the interesting thing is now the papers are AWARE of affiliate marketing, and can start setting their sites on it. Their sales people could, with the proper training turn them into local powerhouses of lead generation and commission based marketing. I could see this being the type of revenue stream that finally breaks the subscription fees back. No longer would they care about the .25/day they were collecting when half the paper becomes traceable/redeemable coupons. There will be more reason for them to aggressively grow their audience again. Think about this scenario: they offer joe’s local tire chain free ads, but then for everyone who comes in to joe’s ads bearing the coupon, they pay the newspaper $5.

If the newspapers wanted to setup their own groupon clones, it’d be easy too: Tippr offers a white label system that is turnkey for this purpose.