How did Craigslist manage to become the king of classifieds?

How did Craigslist manage to become the king of classifieds?

Summary: Pardon the off-topic rant - but I'm just blown away by how much power craigslist holds over classified advertising and how truly screwed up its system is.You see, for the past few weeks, I've been trying to sell a car.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Tech Industry
32

Pardon the off-topic rant - but I'm just blown away by how much power craigslist holds over classified advertising and how truly screwed up its system is.

You see, for the past few weeks, I've been trying to sell a car. So I did what everyone else out there who's trying to sell a car does: I placed an ad on craigslist. I'm pretty serious about moving this car quickly, so I also paid for an ad on cars.com.

Early on, the results were good - from craigslist. I got some phone calls, I had some people come out and take a drive. I even got one buyer who was on the fence and ended up going a different route. I got ZERO calls from the cars.com ad. Not one. And I even paid for that ad. I would have paid craigslist for a listing - but those are free. And so, I just posted another one on craigslist.

Fast forward to this week. I'm still sitting on this car, I've lowered the price and played up a couple of other features but now, for some unexplainable reason, my craigslist ad won't appear in the listings. It's there. I got an e-mail confirmation with a link to the live ad.  But it doesn't show up in any of the listings or search results.  What gives?

Well, any other company or Web service would have a way to reach out to the staff for some help. But craigslist does not have that. You can send in an email for some help, but you get an auto-reply telling you to check the help forums. There is no 800 number to call. There is no support team. There's no real-time chat feature to talk to a customer service.

Nope, there's just a forum of other users who offer their own two cents based on their own experiences. They can't say for sure what's causing the problem. They're just guessing. One of the respondents to my query said my ad is being "ghosted" - hidden from the listings - because I used non-alphanumeric characters in the headline. (I had used a comma, just like I had in the previous ads that were posted.) And based on the questions I saw on the help forum, I'm not the only one having this problem.

So, I took the guy's advice and fixed and resubmitted it. Hours later, the ad is still missing from the listings.

if this were the experience with any other Web service, I would have been long gone already. But what alternatives do I have?

  • The newspaper? Yeah, like anyone goes there for classifieds anymore.
  • Cars.com? Tried that. Paid my $40 and got not one call. Not one.
  • Another online classified site? Maybe. There are several but none has the audience that craigslist offers.
  • eBay Motors? I'll be working on that ad later today.

I realize that selling this car is my problem and I've got to find a way to do that. But here's what really kills me: Who in the heck made craigslist the king of all classified ads? According to comscore, craigslist saw a 33 percent year-over-year jump in traffic in August, bringing it up to nearly 80 percent market share.

How did that happen? Craigslist has no customer service to help customers. It has no rules or criteria about ads. It allows other users to flag and remove your ad (one of my ads was flagged moments after an ad for another car like mine - but more expensive - appeared on the site. I couldn't help but wonder if that seller wanted to eliminate the competition.)

When I think about all of the blunders that occurred at newspapers across the country, I can't help but think of how they let an advertising cash cow - classifieds - slip from their fingers and fall into the hands of a company that may be free but does the absolute minimum for its visitors and "customers."

The worst part is that until someone shows up to unseat them - and the numbers show that they have a long way to go - we may be stuck with craigslist as our de facto in classified advertising

Topic: Tech Industry

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

32 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Kijiji?

    Never really looked at it but isn't it's goal to unseat Craigslist.
    Viva la crank dodo
    • There are several...

      But, as you can see from the chart, none are close to craigslist and none are growing as fast, either. Interestingly enough, I have yet to see any real marketing or advertising campaign by any of the others in an attempt to unseat craigslist. If they don't advertise, how will people know to try them?
      SamDiaz
      • try posting on Facebook Marketplace

        www.facebook.com/marketplace

        Not only will that put your listing in that marketplace (which is growing quickly) it will automatically share your listing in over 200 classifieds sites powered by Oodle (including Oodle.com).
        craigoodle
        • No luck Facebook Marketplace - only spam replies :(

          I tried Facebook Marketplace several times and only received spam
          replies, i.e. "I'm really interested, please only reply via email and not
          Facebook". Yeah, right, not gonna happen.

          It's really disappointing because I think Oodle and Facebook did an
          excellent product design and implementation.

          The only sites I get real replies and actual sales from are Craigslist and
          Kijiji (yes, really, though not as much as CL).
          cifip
      • Try LifeSparke.com

        LifeSparke.com is a Social Networking site for classifieds like Craigslist, but you can also build your social and business profile like LinkedIn and make network like Facebook. Try it out and spread the word to friends.......there is nothing to lose....they're free service.
        TheGhst
  • Simple: It's free and easy to post.

    If you're having problems with an ad...just post another one. It's free and easy. As for flagging I don't believe a single user can flag an ad. It requires multiple flagging before an ad is removed.
    ye
    • Right on the money

      Nothing beats FREE and SIMPLE TO USE in anything.
      There is also really no need for help since
      everything is self explanatory. Also you have to
      post it daily anyway in order for it to continue
      to appear.
      nothingness
  • RE: How did Craigslist manage to become the king of classifieds?

    "Who in the heck made craigslist the king of all classified ads?"

    Anyone would doesn't want to pay a single cent for a classified - that's who.
    Vocalpoint
  • RE: How did Craigslist manage to become the king of classifieds?

    Craigslist became large because they enjoyed the first mover advantage. They got to the marketplace first and everyone flocked to them. Also, since Craigslist leans way to the left politically, Newspapers across the country (at their own peril) gave them unbridled amounts of free publicity and still do today. They've been rolling on that momentum ever since.
    veteranganz
  • People like you made it...

    exactly what it is.
    bjbrock
  • Who in the heck made craigslist the king of all classified ads?

    You did.

    Like you told us, cars.com is a waste of money and the newspapers are even worse. Think "Metcalf's Law."
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • forget crimeslist!!!

    Craigslist is waste of time if you live in NY... WantAdDigest.com is the only way to go if you live in the northeast... hands down a great site and easy navigation and most of all real ads from real people. Want Ad Digest has been rockn a weekly rag sense the late sixties for those not on the wire...
    wadfather
  • This may be the solution for you.

    http://www.americanlisted.com/
    This is a place I used when selling my car.
    Loved their hazzle free page.

    Good luck/Thomas
    RichardNester
  • RE: How did Craigslist manage to become the king of classifieds?

    Craiglist may not have a customer service department but the guy who runs their search - Jeremy Zawodny - has a serious tech blog, so why don't you ask him?

    http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/
    springerspaniel
  • AutoTrader.com

    Craigslist is the king of personals and escort services, but not cars. Talk to any car dealer and they will tell you where to advertise: AutoTrader.com. Their audience dwarfs Cars.com, ebay Motors and Craigslist cars-for-sale sections. Best of all, shoppers on AutoTrader can search for private seller ads so they see your car and not the dealers'. A note on comscore... I work in the auto ad biz and comscore has a seperate category for auto classifies. Look at that chart and you'll see AutoTrader is the real king.
    cptnwarsaw
  • Let them Eat cake?

    For a business with this much traffic and revenue, the problems its users encounter day after day, post after post, are really beyond comprehension. They make enough money to fix this stuff, folks ? and they refuse to do it!

    Craigslist users have every right to expect that their safety come before some abstract concept of ?democracy.? People aren?t fools: as long as Craigslist refuses to evolve, the site will increasingly be defined by its flaws, risks and frustrations that fewer and fewer users will be willing to put up with. There are alternatives to Craigslist ? including ours. . I welcome every law-abiding Craigslist user to surf on over to Geebo where we work hard to make yours a safe, easy and enjoyable community classifieds experience. No silly haiku?s here!

    Sam, from where I am sitting (short a throne) no harm in posting it on Geebo. :)
    geebocom
  • alternatives?

    Personally, I've been really unsettled about all of the news surrounding Craigslist and safety issues so I've been looking for alternatives. Has anyone had any luck on other sites that are reputable with broad searches available?

    I found one called americanlisted.com- they claim to review all ads before posting them, plus you can do searches by zip code- i haven't seen anything with such a localized focus, so I thought that was a pretty neat feature. Would love to hear about other online classified sites people like using.
    Stardaze20
  • You said it -

    hmm - run that by again:

    Craigslist - FREE - got lots of calls
    cars.com - Paid $40 - "got not one call. Not one."

    and you have the audacity to ask "80 percent market share. How did that happen?"

    Halloooooo????????
    oldbaritone
  • RE: How did Craigslist manage to become the king of classifieds?

    How long have you been working for craiglist?
    geebocom
  • Why not

    I have been looking for the possibility to make a very
    localized search and I agree that this site may be the
    way to go.
    RichardNester