Online Classified Advertising

Properly placed classified Ads can increase business through your web site.

From any perspective, there is already a clear winner in the changing
classified advertising scene – the consumer. Never before has the consumer had
so many choices for placing classified ads and for buying products from
classified ads. Anybody can now easily enter keywords and price ranges for
sought after items and instantly retrieve a list of available items matching
their exact specifications from hundreds of Web sites. A quick hyperlinked
e-mail to the seller can seal the deal. The seller can reach more people than
ever before thanks to online supplements to print classifieds. And the seller
can maintain the ad more efficiently, via e-mail or Web site form.


Online Newspapers At A Crossroads


Online newspapers offer online classifieds which supplement the print
versions. But placement of online classifieds with the newspapers actually
requires off-line placement or offline verification – a major inconvenience.
Many classifieds can’t be globalized. Since the majority of items sold through
classifieds are locally bought and sold, the newspapers have an opportunity to
maintain market share, but only if they implement online, real-time placement.
Thousands of online newspapers and other sites support online viewing but no
online placement of consumer classifieds. Some of the popular city guides
provide links to other classified services. But the Yahoo Metro Guides provide
their own as well as links to others.


FREE – Yahoo offers Metro Guides for Boston, Chicago, D.C., L.A., N.Y.
and S.F. Bay. http://www.yahoo.com Each guide features a classified section
with the following categories: Air and Water Craft, Employment, Real Estate
(Residential), Announcements Merchandise, Rentals and Roommates, Autos and
Motorcycles, Personals, Tickets, Business Opportunities, Pets and Animals,
Computers and Software and Real Estate (Commercial).


Listings are free and you can maintain them yourself. We visited the
Yahoo-Chicago site, where listings for many categories were on the “thin” side
despite the free nature of the service. Many listings are submitted by other
classified sites rather than individuals. Once you select an item of interest,
you can ask Yahoo to create a map for the area where the item can be found. The
service also provides links to other local newspaper and Usenet classified
sites.


Classifieds2000, The Internet Classifieds, offers FREE
listings and viewing of vehicle and computer classifieds.
Deja News, the premier
Usenet news group search engine, andLycos host the Classifieds2000 free service also, and they
claim to offer the most listings on the Web. Classifieds2000 includes easy
updating, a shopping cart, and Cool Notify, which is an e-mail service that
notifies you when an item comes along that meets your desired criteria.


Yahoo! and
ADP Auto Connect have
announced plans to provide their visitors with co-branded access to free used
car and truck listings from thousands of participating North American
dealerships.


Auction sites provide a buying and selling forum for numerous items that
were previously marketed in the classifieds such as computers, antiques and
collectibles. Some of the buying frenzy which prevails at live auctions carries
forward to on-line auctions, assuring a good selling price for many items. Most
of the popular online auctions are actually consignment sales sites for dealers
and offer no access for individuals selling single items. But a few sites
actually provide a true buy/sell forum for individuals.


The Auction Block – An example of what is available, FREE of
charge, to individual buyers and sellers. Categories include: Automotive,
Books, Coins & Currency, Collectibles & Antiques, Comics, Computers,
Game Machines & Games, Home Items, Home Electronics, Jewelry, Misc.,
Musical Instruments, Records, CDs, Tapes, & 8-Tracks, Sporting Goods,
Sports Cards, Toys and Trading Cards. The site is fully automated. Offerings
are very slim but we believe this category will grow.


eBay Auction Web
Over 300,000 individual items have been put on the auction block including real
estate, antiques and collector cars. Over 1.3 million bids have been placed on
the items. Enter your auction item on the online form, and receive an instant
cost quote.


Currently, the dealer consignment sites such asOn Sale move $4 million dollars
worth of product monthly.


Shopping for a home has never been easier. Most of the popular on-line
real-estate listing services are controlled by realtors. Some support listings
by Realtors as well as individual owners.Owners Network is billed as the “MLS (Multiple Listing
Service) of FSBO (For Sale By Owner) properties”. Listings are free but only
include basic information and no photos. Owner’s Network lists over 7,000
properties nationwide. Buyers can search for a property using simple search
engine criteria.


For Sale By
Owner Connection
enables a home seller to list a property with photo and
full description for up to a year for $89. Listings for the 22 states covered
are sparse.


The International Real-Estate Directory, provides links to
thousands of Realtor Web sites and features articles on buying and selling
real-estate. IRED offers a classifieds section for buyers and sellers. A
classified listing begins at about $50 per month.


A survey on a related site indicated that up to 3% of listed homes are
sold as a result of an on-line listing. This was compared favorably to similar
sales results from the MLS services, whereas “for sale” signs on the front lawn
account for 40% of home sales.


The Monster
Board
is one of the premier employment sites on the Web. Companies,
recruiters or individuals can post individual jobs for $150 or pay over $1,000
to post multiple positions and company profiles. Posting a job listing is
handled manually after submitting a form and reaches 25,000 potential recruits
daily. A free resume builder will help job hunters post their resume on-line
and block their current employer from seeing it. A similar site,
Intellimatch features
a personal job agent that informs job hunters when suitable job listings are
posted.


HeadHunter.NET is
one of the largest web based employment sites on the Internet. HeadHunter.NET
now has 60,000 current jobs (less than 45 days old) and literally thousands of
employers and recruiters. All jobs represent original content posted by users
(not skimmed from Usenet). Actually, if you take a look at Usenet, you will see
that HeadHunter.NET is the single largest provider of new job content.


Career Mosaic
is hosted by Bernard Hodes Advertising, a recruitment advertising agency.
Employers can post job listings for $150/month and job hunters can post their
resume free of charge. The job listings receive 100,000 inquiries daily. Career
Mosaic also allows you to search the job listings from Usenet groups and
newspapers.


CareerNET is one of
hundreds of employment Web sites which provide links to thousands of other
employment resource entries. To find additional Web sites which support
employer and job hunter postings directly, try out CareerNET.


The first employment sites on the Internet were the USENET Newsgroups.
There are now over a dozen newsgroups that focus specifically on job and resume
listings and numerous others covering miscellaneous classified items,
real-estate and autos.


Some examples are: misc.jobs.offered,uiuc.misc.jobs, alt.forsale,
alt.building.realestate and alt.autos. Some of these groups are moderated, and
others, such as misc.jobs.offered, are highly popular unmoderated free-for-alls
where listings are free, posted more-or-less in real-time, and which generate a
high level of activity. But the response is short-lived as the popular
newsgroups receive hundreds or thousands of postings daily. In very short
order, your posting is lost in a sea of newer postings.


America Online, Compuserve and Prodigy have their own classified
sections for all types of items and services. Classifieds can be placed by
buyers and sellers for very little cost, yet reach a potential audience of one
million or more subscribers. You might find it worthwhile to subscribe to a
basic service for $10 per month in order to have access to this popular
classified format.


Many university sites provide links to university newsgroups,
newspapers, and employment assistance sites which will post student resumes and
University job listings. An example of the wide assortment of classified
opportunities available can be found at theUniversity of Illinois WebSite. From the main page, students
can find listings for several UIUC newsgroups which support free buyer and
seller classified listings as well as links to the employment resource center
where resumes can be posted online free of charge. There are also links to the
Daily Illini student newspaper online classifieds.


Another UIUC
site
, enhances the utility of the UIUC Usenet classifieds by combining them
together and enabling buyers and sellers to use the Web interface in real-time.
Some of the features of this combined system include: Categorization,
Searchability, and a Personal Agent, which watches out for particular words and
will send the user an email when one or more of those words appear in any new
messages posted, and finally, Free Availability.


The Ad One Classified
Network
enables you to search the classifieds of over 200 newspapers across
the country. In order to place an ad, you are linked to the newspaper of
choice, where you will provide detail on your ad and wait for a representative
to contact you.


The local and regional newspapers which typically hosted the classifieds
and made more than one-third of their ad revenue from them face a crossroad.
More newspapers are bringing their classified offerings online every day but
virtually none of them are offering real-time online posting of classifieds,
nullifying much of the potential added value.


CareerPath is a
good example of the new cooperation taking place on the Web. The following
newspapers participate, feeding their classifieds to a single Web site to reach
a national audience as well as reaching a local audience on their own Web site
and in printed form: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fort Wayne Newspapers, The
Orlando Sentinel, The Baltimore Sun, The Hartford Courant, Philadelphia
Inquirer, The Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, The Sacramento Bee, The
Charlotte Observer, Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, Chicago Tribune,
The Miami Herald, The Seattle Times/P-I, The Columbus Dispatch, Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, The Denver Post, Minneapolis-St.
Paul Pioneer Press, The Washington Post, Denver Rocky Mountain News,
Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, The Detroit News And Free Press and The New
York Times. Links to every newspaper site, where you will have to go in order
to place the classifieds, can be
Here.


Unfortunately, none of these classified sites supports real-time
classified postings. The Washington Post still requires a phone, fax or mail
order. The Seattle Times lets you enter your classified ad with complete detail
online but then requires a contact by a Times employee before the ad can run.
Even the San Jose Mercury News, the newspaper of Silicon Valley and winner of
Editor & Publisher’s “Best Online Classifieds Award”, requires a phone
confirmation before they will run the ad in the print and online versions.


According to industry analyst Esther Dyson, the value of an interactive
newspaper is the interaction it provides with other people in real-time, much
the way talk radio happens. So far, this is not the case with online newspapers
although the first steps are being taken.


Thomson Newspapers just acquired the Internet classified advertising
division of Prodigy Services Corp. Thomson publishes 85 dailies including The
Globe and Mail of Toronto, and plans to use Prodigy’s classified ad system for
its own newspapers and also sell the product to other publishers.


Electric Classifieds,
Inc.
provides its Global Online Classifieds technology to America Online’s
Digital City, CompuServe and Cox Interactive Media.


New Century
Network
is rumored to be pooling classified resources together among it’s
members.


One of a small handful of online news sites which support real-time
interactive classifieds isThe
village of Effingham
,IL hosts newspaper type classifieds. The software that
implements the system is low priced and appears to be robust. Contact the
developer for additional information.


AdQuest Classifieds, AdQuest is promoted in more than 165 publications
in 10 states, and the daily circulation of the participating newspapers is
about 10 million. AdQuest’s classifieds on the Internet have grown to more than
40,000 ads updated daily and are available for viewing and filtered online and
off-line searches only, no postings. The classified categories that receive the
largest percent of searches are employment and transportation. Other categories
include merchandise, real estate, personals, announcements, recreation,
services, and farm. Quest averages more than 40,000 searches, or “hits” a
month.


CONCLUSION


The number of Web sites which support online, real time placement and
viewing of classifieds by consumers is growing and poised to take-off. As the
saying goes, you get what you pay for. Free sites are the legacy of the
pre-1994 Web when commercial activity was not permitted. While they obviously
provide the best deal, they don’t support the efforts of the Web site owner.
But sites such as Classifieds2000, through their affinity relationship with
Deja News Usenet Search Engine, stand to gain tremendous ground through the use
of user friendly features. Fee based sites generally offer the best features,
the best audience reach and the best results. Online newspapers must jump on
the bandwagon now, or forever lose market share.