May 27, 2019

Online classifieds advertising, although mostly underappreciated, is now a dynamic category with constant challenges for the future, such as rise of new players and big data. Traditionally newspaper publishers would provide the bulk of all classifieds advertising, especially the employment, automotive and real estate advertisements. But following the shift toward online, classifieds have become somewhat unnoticed, or even invisible.

This new online pressure has mainly resulted from companies outside the industry, such as Google and Facebook, stepping in and establishing their own services and products. Current strategies of publishers, with 56.9%, seem to concentrate on revamping their offerings and/or launching new services.

Reshaping Classifieds

The classifieds category was always owned by publishers and the competition was always from within the industry. With the growth of the digital sphere, other brands took charge to dominate the online display of classifieds ads. From horizontal and vertical models, selling and buying items has become more and more streamlined. And now, internet companies that dominate all social and search communication, are stepping into the classifieds world. Facebook Marketplace is already launched in over 30 countries and reaching many locally and nationally. Google and Amazon are slightly more focused in their approach. While Google is mainly focused in the recruitment category, Amazon has started some regional testing for consumer to consumer advertising verses business to consumer.

This signifies a very strong shift in classifieds advertising. Some interesting statistics show 75% of consumers when searching for second-hand merchandise across most categories turn online first; specifically 28% of consumers go online first when searching for an used car. But there is a margin of opportunity, as classifieds is not brand specific. If your results show up first and you offer a good local variety of options, your site will be within their radar. Closely monitor trends locally and nationally to notice what growth drivers can help diversify your offerings.

Just having a modern site that is mobile responsive to reach growing numbers of smartphone users might not be enough. Maybe creating social media pages with content that are displayed and link to your classifieds page and your advertisers website.  This can include having an Instagram page of online ads that have photos and adding the link to your classifieds site for more details. Another options can be retail business ads are your article links for your classifieds branded site Linkedin account. Adding social media boosting and promotion budgets into your digital plan for your classifieds ads, will provide a better local engagement, as part of your online upsell opportunities. Building a solid team that will focus on these opportunities will help make or break reshaping your classifieds.

Social Media Classifieds

Let’s consider social media classifieds a little closer. Although Facebook is building a more specific online marketplace experience for its users, other social sites also have integrated business posts from “click to find more” to “click to buy”. Social media is now the center of all communication and access to information. From news to live event updates, our social media accounts provide a very personalized experience and now businesses can use these trusted mediums to actually sell their services and products.

Social media post content is no longer just limited to an advertising tool to create awareness and building brand personas to resonate with audiences. Now most social media sites provide layers of functionality according to the brand requirements – if services, in app videos and testimonials and if products, a nice spread of sale items pop up, and all link to the brand website for more details. Users are taught that once they see something they like about a brand, they can just get it. They can save posts and links to their account and always go back to get more and share with their friends. In this way, their social accounts become a valuable source of collected information for further research and in some way, an assistant to keep track of things.

Compared to the way the classic classifieds websites are configured, social media sites offer mobile experiences in a nicely designed structure. Most classifieds solutions mainly provide an online photo and text and contact information. Not only that, the search results are just filled with lines of text and prices but not providing enough differentiation and engagements. Classifieds sites now need to learn from social media sites as they are dominating the online display standard for browsing and reading information – full of photos, short and clear information and visible buttons with quick website linking.

Clearly that old-fashioned classified ad never really went away. It is continuously evolving into new forms in the online environment.