Craig’s List has been ‘credited’ with the decimation of the classified advertising business. Like so many things that the web has accustomed us to, it has made free that which we once paid for. Unlike many other manifestations of ‘free’ Craig’s List is different because it has no real or apparent desire to make money. Apart from charging some professional categories like real estate advertisers, employers and hookers it’s just free. It is also free of display advertising , even free of the ubiquitous Google Adwords.
This is just great but does its model make it impregnable? In real terms Craig’s List has staggeringly limited functionality with limited search and navigation, a complete lack of personalization tools and apparently zero regard for the veracity of the goods and services advertised. The example below was found in a search today (Easter Sunday) for books over $500.
Autographed bible – $15000
Reply to: see below
Date: 2009-04-10, 11:30PM EDT
This is a Bible autographed by Jesus himself. It has been handed down in my family for generations. Due to the bad economy I need to get some quick money so i am selling it. For more information please call me, Francis Chamberlain at xxx-xxx-xxxx
I decided to XXX Mr. Chamberlain’s number but the resourceful among you may be able to find the listing. It makes me wonder just how the newspaper market lost a primary revenue source and can only conclude one thing. Put simply the newspapers never realized that personal classified advertising was in fact content that in itself attracted audiences and therefore a platform for other advertising that someone might pay for.