Tag Archives: Classifieds

Oodle’s iPhone App: Mostly About the Camera

Classifieds haven’t been especially enhanced by mobile apps – although it is nice to have them on the go when shopping for a car or a house. But Oodle keeps pushing the envelope with its effort to bring the world of social media to classifieds.

The classifieds site, which also acts as a platform for clients such as Facebook and WalMart, has now added an iPhone app that CEO Craig Donato says is less about search than it is about making it easier to post items. “We’ve made it really simple. You post an ad, take a picture and you’re done,” he emphasizes. The iPhone isn’t just a phone, he adds. “It is a wireless camera.”

The app also makes it easier to see what you friends (and friends of friends) are looking for via Facebook Connect. Roughly 70 percent to 80 percent of the site’s traffic is via Facebook Connect, says Donato. “Mobile and social are very interrelated.”

Friends that have too many friends (i.e. 2500 friends) kind of water down the exclusivity on this. Their friends could be just about anybody. But it still interesting. “Classifieds exist as a second degree of connectiveness,” says Donato. “The amount of want ads is very high,” especially for items such as tickets.

Donato notes that other efforts at Oodle have been moving along, including its Oodle Pro reputation management-and-classifieds placement program, which has just gotten its 1,000th customer. “People (especially Realtors) use Pro to get leads and to focus on taking advantage of other social features.”


‘Garage Sales Tracker’ Teams with Community Paper Sites

There was a time when it looked like eBay would replace garage sales – or the Goodwill box. But putting things up for sale was probably too much work. In fact, garage sale postings in 2009 were up 80 percent on Craigslist last year.

Craigslist, Oodle and PennySaver have been among the leaders in online listings. Now add Garage Sales Tracker to the list. Based in Boca Raton, Fla., the start-up provides a full platform for local media companies, including TV stations and community newspapers.

Launched in January 2009, Garage Sales Tracker posts sales locations on an embedded Google Map, and includes useful tips for sellers (“have plenty of single dollar bills on hand”). It also provides related information about local consignment shops, and allows users to filter their search by item or geographic location. Garage Sales Tracker can be white labeled by the media partners

It is also a destination site in its own right, selling ads to related categories, including self storage (U-Store-It) and foreclosure listings (RealtyTrac). We’ve seen other self storage companies on the local media sites. Mortgage brokers are also envisioned.The site also earns revenue from featured listings. Otherwise, listings are free.

Mobile also a significant role in the site’s development. Garage Sales Tracker currently has an iPhone app, which helps garage sale shoppers on-the-go. An Android app is currently in development.

Trulia Branches Out into Rentals

Trulia, which is ranked a Top 7 real estate site by Comscore, has followed the lead of Realtor.com and Zillow and added rentals to its site. The rentals section features all of Trulia’s functionality, such as neighborhood information, mapping and ratings information, and filters for relevant searches such as “pets allowed.”

The site also offers “search on the go.” Roughly ten percent of Trulia’s usage now comes from mobile devices. Trulia’s mobile Web site is compatible with the iPhone, Blackberry and Android platforms.

Trulia rentals covers the gamut from multifamily to houses. Listings will come from Independent Listings Services, as well as from brokerages and landlords. There are “millions” of units on the site at launch, with more than 25,000 in New York City.

One advantage of Trulia rentals, per CEO Pete Flint, is Trulia’s ability to assume hosting duties for listers including the hosting of contact info, images of units and floor plans, and other information. That separates Trulia from some of the rentals aggregators in the market, such as Oodle, he says.

Flint notes that 30 percent of the site’s visitors are typically looking to either rent or buy. The market trends are “absolutely in favor of renting,” he says. Overall, rentals “are as large as the ‘for sale’ business.”

Separately, in an interview with Business Week, Flint deflected rumors that Google has been looking into buying the company. Trulia uses many of Google’s features and it would seem to be a nice fit. But Flint told BusinessWeek that the real estate market isn’t strong enough to appreciate the site’s full value this year.

As an alternative, the company is looking for an outside investor that would let employees and owners cash in their shares without waiting for an initial public offering, similar to Facebook’s arrangement with Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian company; and Yelp’s arrangement with Elevation Partners.

Cablevision’s Newsday Goes Behind the Firewall

Cablevision has made good on its threat to put the online version of Newsday behind a firewall, accessible only by print subscribers or online only users willing to pay $5 per week. Classifieds will remain free.

Newsday, purchased last May from Tribune Corp. for $650 million, is the nation’s 19th largest newspaper with a daily circulation of 368,194. That’s down from 488,000 a few years ago

The move to put it all behind a firewall is primarily designed to reinforce the value of a print subscription, while bringing in some new dollars – not many — from those who exclusively use the online site. It goes against the conventional wisdom that has prevailed in the Internet era that online readers extend the user base and the newspaper brand, making both more appealing to advertisers.

Newspapers, of course, have an interesting dilemma. Surveys have shown that many users simply don’t want the hassle of managing the account of a daily paper that needs to be recycled or thrown out, especially if they don’t have time to read it on a daily basis. The online fee – also being explored by The New York Times – would compensate the newspaper for its content. The NY Times, however, is apparently looking at a $5 monthly fee, not $20. And it is a primary source for news.

Limiting users is also appealing to publishers as it cuts bandwidth costs, and focuses advertising on local consumers. Providing content to European and Asian audiences is a constant topic of conversation among U.S. newspaper publishers, especially as they add more and more multimedia features with higher bandwidth costs.

At the same time, Cablevision risks losing even more subscribers and further reducing Newsday’s storied brand, which must compete against television news outlets (including Cablevision’s own News12), Internet news sources, and other metro titles (i.e. The New York Times, New York Post, The Daily News). Brand value is especially important in retaining major accounts, such as retailers and auto dealers.

Cablevision’s assessment, obviously, is that it can shore up the Newsday brand, especially using promotions on cable, and its pioneering use of dedicated, on demand channels for autos and real estate – an area that the cable company has been actively pushing.

My assessment is that the MSO is not necessarily de-emphasizing online ads, as some newspapers have. It just hopes to reach them in different ways, with a more focused audience. Executing on that vision (and minimizing the collateral damage) is the daunting task that lies ahead for Tad Smith, the information industry heavyweight from Reed Business Information who has just been appointed Cablevision’s new head of local media group.

Cablevision has already written off much of the $650 million that it spent to buy Newsday. Financially, the acquisition was a very poor decision. The question is whether it can get some of it back and rebuild the Newsday franchise for a new generation.

Wired: ‘The Tragedy of Craigslist’

The glory of Craigslist is “its size and its price,” notes writer Gary Wolf in a provocative dissection of the site in the September edition of Wired. But “Craigslist is one of the strangest monopolies in history, where customers are locked in by fees set at zero and where the ambiance of neglect is not a way to extract more profit but the expression of a worldview.”

Wolf, unable to get much out of CEO Buckmaster and founder Craig Newmark in terms of their business vision, a typical experience, is especially frustrated by the site’s primitive technology. “It is the most important community site going and yet the most underdeveloped,” he writes. “ Think of any Web feature that has become popular in the past 10 years. Chances are Craigslist has considered it and rejected it.”

Sometimes, however, Craigslist’s primitiveness just works. The simplistic site, for instance, makes for a natural, fast loading mobile app. Whether or not you like the “people power” politics of the site’s leaders, which excludes all marketers from the table, Wolf concludes that the site just doesn’t have to be so bad.

He talks to several top designers, who all are quick to acknowledge that the site does its job, and then some. But it could be easily improved. Remodelling ideas would highlight search, line up columns, and recognize visited links. Open up the gates, Mr. Buckmaster!

HotJobs’ Launches ‘Pay-Per-Candidate;’ Broad Implications

In an action that could have broad implications for the classifieds industry, Yahoo! HotJobs has added a “Pay Per Candidate” model that guarantees that recruiters aren’t paying for untouched “ghost” listings. Pay Per Candidate only charges recruiters when candidates view a listing and act on it.

The HotJobs model, similar to efforts launched by niche recruitment sites such as Indeed, allows recruiters to put a ceiling on the number of applications received. Recruiters can also screen candidate credentials so they aren’t paying for unqualified applicants.

HotJobs’ move suggests continued evolution up the search ladder, and the industry’s growing efficiency (and complexity). It is easy to see how Pay Per Candidate could similarly be applied across the board for car sites, real estate sites and other classified segments.

Theoretically, a next step for HotJobs would be to add more searchable elements, matching searches to candidates, and charging a premium for conversions, a la some of the installations of Vast.com’s service.

Boston.com Launches Virtual Bulletin Board

It would be a pity if The New York Times Co.’s Boston Globe were shut down, because its Boston.com site continues to innovate with local online advertising capabilities. Today, the company’s YourTown hyperlocal sites launched Flyerboards: a virtual bulletin board on which businesses can post “flyers” to advertise their services and events.

The technology behind Flyerboard, by New Haven-based PaperG, automatically converts images into flyers . What makes it different from other print conversion programs is that it also enables various Web 2.0 functionality, including email sharing, social networking and online maps (although vendors like Travidia and HarvestInfo have been adding a host of advanced solutions to their own offerings).

Boston.com’s plans are to initially launch Flyerboard on Newton, Needham, Waltham and Wellesley. Other communities will eventually being added.

One touted advantage of the Flyerboard is that it can be sold on a self-serve basis. Alternatively, publishers can bundle Flyerboard sales with other sponsorships.

PaperG CEO Victor Wong tells us that more deals for the Flyerboard are set to be announced in coming weeks by several additional newspaper companies. “It is already live with 50 websites,” largely focused on the college market, he says. For those sites, Wong says it is “outperforming the click through rates of banner ads and Google at a fraction of the cost.”