Tag Archives: Oodle

BestBuy, NextJump’s OO.com Team for ‘Charitable Marketing’

Not to be cynical about it, but charity has always been great for business. “Charitable Marketing,” or “altruistic marketing,” has been embraced by many of the leading brands, from McDonalds and Ben&Jerry‘s Ice Cream to the National Football League.

It works even better at the local community level. More and more of our local marketplace companies are jumping on the bandwagon by donating a portion of their proceeds to charity – usually around 10 percent, or equivalent.

BiddingforGood, an effort developed by Family Education Network founder Jon Carson, has worked with 6,400 companies to run auctions for charities. Oodle, under the leadership of Craig Donato, got a jump on the bandwagon a couple of years ago by letting used good sellers assign their proceeds to their choice among a list of 1,000 charities.

More recently, we’ve seen Local Corp’s SpreeBird assign 10 percent of its net proceeds to local schools or charities: an effort that has already sent out over $700,000. Similarly, Mogl.com, a diner loyalty program, assigns .5% of every restaurant tab to its “donate a meal” program, as well as the donation of free meals to incent new signups. That effort that has already amounted to 50,000 meals from the startup. Go Jon Carder!

NextJump’s OO.com is also pushing hard on the cause marketing front. It assigns a loyalty WOW point for every dollar assigned – a loyalty factor that encourages customers to buy in network. Today, in conjunction with Father’s Day, it is partnering with BestBuy on a $10 for $20 on day deal, with proceeds designed to push 00.com’s donation to Donors Choose, a poor schools program, over the $1 million mark – an effort that has impacted 127,000 students in 472 schools in less than six months.

NextJump CEO Charlie Kim tell us that the charity effort and other company efforts all add up to the same thing. “Basically, it is incentive currency,” he says. “It incents behavior. They are going to buy things anyway.”

Oodle Buys Grouply: Moving The Social Graph Beyond (Just) Friends

Group software seems obsolescent in the social revolution. Or is it?

A few weeks ago, John Battelle’s Federated Media acquired Big Tent, the women’s group enabler with 1.3 million users. It apparently plans to target women with very specific advertising.

Oodle, the mega-classifieds platform, has now followed course, buying Grouply, which is described by TechCrunch as “a do-it-yourself social network built on top of Google Groups and Yahoo Groups.” Oodle isn’t disclosing how much it paid, but Grouply had been funded by VCs (including LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman) to the tune of $2.6 million.

So — What can you do with group software? Oodle CEO Craig Donato sees it as a first step to moving social media beyond just friends. He notes that groups bring in different kinds of conversations in a social context, whether people are giving things away, want to talk to other mothers, or share tips on recycling. Among “first degree friends,” there simply isn’t enough liquidity to engage in robust commerce, he hints.

While the social graph is still mostly about friends, the graphs are getting more complicated, adds Donato. “There are lots of circles, and lots of different affinities. The texture to the graph is incredibly important for commerce. The sweet spot is two or three degrees of separation. This might include friends of friends, college classmates or people from your home town.

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.”


‘Oodle’ Pro Launches: Tieing the Self-Serve Sensibility of AdSense With Social

Its not just about advertising anymore. Social media is important too. Accordingly, a number of vendors and network providers have developed tools to help them see where there best placements are; how their reputations are unfolding online; and to simplify and automate their processes for listings and other information.

Today, Oodle has taken several steps in this direction via the unveiling of “Oodle Pro.” The service represents Oodle’s first substantive effort to go after “individual” vertical SMB accounts, rather than media platforms. Initially aimed at real estate agents and brokers for $24.99 a month (or $14.99 a month with annual $180 subscriptions), Oodle Pro will eventually have versions set for property managers, auto dealers and job recruiters, among other classified verticals.

Oodle Pro is live for real estate now; the property manager version will be released within 2009; and the others will follow in 2010. The service represents Oodle’s first substantive effort to go after “individual” accounts, rather than media platforms.

The service has two main components. The first component tracks activity on listings, while also automatically uploading listings across its network of 80,000 indexed sites. That provides an “AdSense, self-serve like capability” to marketers, says CEO and Founder Craig Donato. The second component allows listings to be integrated with the online presence of sellers. For example, listers can use Twitter to promote a new listing, or integrate a listing with their Facebook page. Eventually, Donato sees Oodle Pro even giving a social dimension to pure classifieds sites such as Craig’s List, as Realtors can integrate their profile pages with listings.

Donato notes that Oodle already provides a listings platform for Facebook, MySpace and AOL, as well as 80,000 other sites. It is well positioned to now begin working with individual real estate agents and brokers to provide these services. Donato adds that realtors are the first targets for the service because they are among the most dependent category on social media. More than 300,000 real estate professionals have pages on Facebook.

Oodle Pro, in fact, already is being introduced to agents by Realogy, the umbrella group for 270,000 agents working under various Realogy brands, including Century 21 Coldwell Banker, ERA, NRT, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. Oodle Pro will also be used by First Team Real Estate in Southern California, and McGuire Company in the Bay Area. More brokerages will be introduced to the product at the National Association of Realtors annual convention in San Diego, which begins at the end of this week.

Oodle Adds Twitter; Sees Common Thread with Facebook et al

Oodle has added Twitter to its outlets for social classified listings. Oodle’s other social media outlets also include Facebook, MySpace and AOL.

CEO Craig Donato says he hopes to apply the learnings to Twitter from its launches on the other sites. Oodle is obviously less impacted by Twitter’s 140 character limit than other media, since classifieds are typically pretty short. Many other classified sites have already launched Twitter, including eBay (and eBay’s Kijiji), Zillow, Trulia, Apartments.com, ApartmentFinder and JitterGram, to name just a few.

Basically, it is all about stirring about conversations among your friends , says Donato. That’s what makes a successful offering. The best conversations right now are about video, music and blog posts, he says. Listings can move up the scale by incorporating more features, such as pictures and comments. “We’re trying to harvest word of mouth for listings.”

In Donato’s assessment, there probably isn’t going to be much difference among the channels. The one differentiator that is out there is “localness.” In that regard, Facebook has quite a headstart, he says MySpace and AOL friends might be further afield.

While Twitter would seem to have a natural orientation towards mobile, Donato thinks all the social media sites are going to be going there in equal measure before long.

What’s Wal-Mart Really Doing with Classifieds? A Few Details

One of the great mysteries is what Wal-Mart is really doing with classifieds. Last June, it signed up to use the Oodle platform, but not much has been heard from it since.

In this week’s AdAge, Walmart’s Duncan Dreschel sheds a little light, noting that the company seeks to simultaneously extend the brand, drive traffic to the site and help customers. “We see part of our role as connecting customers to help each other. It also allows us to provide a more complete offering.

“We’re looking at lots of things to make classifieds evolve,” he added. Already, he noted, some people close deals struck on the website in the parking lot of their nearest store.

Schauer: Classifieds are Hyperlocal (and don’t forget it!)

Is it really so easy for the Facebooks and Wal-Marts of the world to use a national platform like Oodle or LiveDeal to successfully launch classifieds? Jay Schauer, a friend who runs Ad2Ad.com, doesn’t think so. (Among other services, Ad2Ad automates classifieds for community and college newspapers.)

Schauer complains that “people seem to assume that classified advertising is an easy business to understand and enter. It’s not. It’s a business that demands fierce commitment to localization, understanding the nature of the small local advertiser, and a commitment to small, individual sales.”

Schauer notes that it is “hard ground for start-ups driven by dreams of an IPO. In the past year I’ve seen three competitors drown. Two others are careening toward the treacherous shoals of this turbulent sea. It gives me no pleasure. Good people with good intentions and lots of hard work wasted — it’s a shame and I mean it.

“What those failing groups seem to have lacked is the desire to get down and get real with the individual advertiser who will actually pay for classifieds. That customer is not rich, not sophisticated, not interested in pretty, elegant or cool.”

He goes on to note that “the bulk of classified advertisers live in small towns and tight neighborhoods. They don’t build social networks. They are typically the salt of the earth — and hence of little interest to VCs. This customer wants RESULTS FAST. They want to get information to their neighbors — who are also their customers. Most important, they will pay a reasonable price to do so.”

“Classifieds are not pretty,” says Schauer. “But the economic engine they support is large and remains robust. More important, the neighbor-to-neighbor business interaction is core to the strength of the greater economy and to our political well-being.”