New York Times: A motor scooter in Manchester, an apartment in Amsterdam, a poster in Paris.
“All are available via Craigslist, an online bulletin board that presents a new challenge to the established players in the estimated $100 billion global market for classified advertising.”
This story in today’s NY Times highlights changes in a relatively traditional market in Europe, where classified advertising on websites has mostly been an extension of traditional print media.
There have been some great success stories, though. One that comes to my mind is Auto Trader, part of the Trader Media Group (ownership details), founded in the 70s by UK entrepreneur John Madejski. Today they have online ad sites in The Netherlands, Italy, Ireland and South Africa, plus six affiliate sites in the UK, generating annual revenue of over ?280 million (?400 million).
Big changes, though, could be coming soon to the whole online classified advertising market through innovation, fast-mover advantage and good old traditional competition:
“Though the international Craigslist sites are available only in English for now, the formula seems to be catching on, if more modestly than in the United States. The London site attracts more than 150,000 unique visitors each month. [...] The Paris site, begun in November, already draws 50,000 unique visitors monthly. Other recently added sites, including Amsterdam, Dublin, S?o Paulo, Brazil, and Bangalore, India, have drawn slightly less traffic.
[...] the international sites could eventually pose a significant threat to newspapers and other, more specialized publications – on paper and the web – that traditionally earn significant portions of their revenue from sales of classified ads, specialists in the field say. “It’s got to scare anyone who takes money for advertising,” said Jim Townsend, the editorial director in Houston of Classified Intelligence, a consulting firm. In the San Francisco area, Classified Intelligence estimates, Craigslist is costing newspapers $50 million to $65 million a year in lost revenue from employment ads alone; because other ads on Craigslist are free, it is hard to gauge the overall effect, Mr. Townsend said.”
Looks like a market about to undergo some big changes.