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Business - Written by on Friday, December 12, 2008 16:54 - 7 Comments

The score: Craigslist 7, traditional media 2

Having used craigslist for all kinds of things (from giving away old televion sets to procuring IT services), I consider myself a vetran user. However, even I was surprised to learn just how much Craigslist trounces its traditional media competitor – classified ads. 

This week, we’re renting out our upstairs apartment. So we placed a 1-week classified ad, as well as posting it in the for-rent section on craigslist. 

First some background – In the past, we’ve always had the best success with local newspaper ads. A few hundred dollars on an ad is a good deal when it means you don’t leave a suite empty for a month - classifieds were a great source of leads for the money. In contrast, we hadn’t had much luck with craigslist in the past, too few responses and no real qualified renters.

My, how times have changed. Our local newspaper advertising cost us $325 for a week of ads. Cost of our craigslist posting: zero, zip nada. Here’s how they compared:

- Cost: $325
- Time before listing went live: 1.5 days
- Results (viewings): 2 viewings one late this week, one scheduled for next monday
- Results (completed applications): zero

- Cost: free
- Time before listing went live: 5 minutes
- Results (viewings): 6 viewings scheduled within 24 hours (and one more later in the week)
- Results (applications): Three sets of completed applications

All I can say is: Craigslist, you are amazing, wow!


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Richard Smith
Dec 12, 2008 20:08

I know from my daughter’s recent experience that for some demographics, in some cities (i.e., young people in Vancouver) the notion of *looking* in a paper doesn’t even occur to them. They only look in Craigslist. The market here is too competitive and if they wait for the paper someone else has the apartment already. They have to go through so many ads to find a place, it is inefficient to sift through paper.

Dec 13, 2008 6:37

You are also more likely to get someone educated, and a better tenant from Internet advertising because the Internet is still somewhat of an elite medium (no doubt this will change).

The newspapers are mainly hanging onto their distribution channels as their business advantage, it’s a weak advantage and getting weaker. I get two newspapers delivered to my house for free (whether I want them or not). They are handy for garden mulch, a layer of paper helps keep the water in the soil. I’ll miss them when they are gone.

Ken Leebow
Dec 13, 2008 8:51

No doubt, Craigslist is amazing. However, recently, I decided to “clean” out my basement. So, up went a few ads on Craigslist. Yep, I got responses immediately. However, most were from scammers…willing to pay me more than my asking price, wanting to know my bank information, etc.

So, there is a downside to the simplicity of Craigslist.

Matthew Dreitlein
Dec 15, 2008 12:28

Poor newspapers, they have to pay to print on paper, they can’t have active conversations from bloggers spawned from their articles, and they don’t even have an edge on advertising anymore.

I hope the big ones move to online platforms fast(like the New York Times) otherwise a lot of journalists are going to be looking for work, which will be a double whammy for them, because there will be no classified ads in print anymore!

Alan Majer
Dec 15, 2008 14:52

Richard, I think your comment is spot on in this case. It almost felt like our newspaper ad was invisible, at least to the younger set anyway.

Tel, I’m inclined to agree with you about online channels reaching a more sophisticated audience. A bit ironic since the local newspaper used to be the place to find tenants that were more likely to be professionals.

Ken, sorry to hear about your bad luck w/ scammers. I’ve also found craigslist to be a wonderful way to help clear my basement and haven’t seen that so far.

Matthew, yes, this is a tough one. Hope we don’t lose some of the great journalism that today depends on those ad revenues. Competing with free isn’t easy.

Mike Dover
Dec 15, 2008 23:15

what’s the weirdest thing you bought on Craigslist?

Ours is a gently used Rabbit hutch.

Weirdest service — that’s your business, we’re curious, but not interested.

Shared Items - December 26, 2008 | Web Business by Ken Burbary
Dec 26, 2008 21:59

[...] The score: Craigslist 7, traditional media 2 [...]

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