Susan Mernit’s post on the Future of Classified Listings prompted this post… While I’ve said all of this in separate messages, it’s valuable to me, and hopefully to you, to aggregate it all into one cohesive “framework”.
The future of classified listings is (from the most obvious to the “most progressive”, so skip ahead if you like):
1) Online: This is obvious to most of us, but just in case… Online order systems allow me to quickly enter, preview and submit my listing. Online presentation means that I can use multiple-media (text, photos, sound, etc) and more “real estate” to better express my offering.
2) Cheaper… or P4P: The days of $3000 job listings, $500 car listings, etc is over, regardless of how many media types and how much room (#1, above) I want to use. Those who lack the cost structure (i.e., newspapers) and fortitude to compete at free, low or pay-for-performance price points will suffer.
3) Geographically cast and filtered/Distribution Control: Yes, I have a couch for sale, but no, I don’t want to sell it to someone 3000 miles away and have to deal with shipping… Controlling distribution based by geography, circle of associates, etc will all be important.
4) Temporal/Clearing: How many times have you called/emailed/driven-by, only to find out the apartment has been rented, the car has been sold, or the job has been filled? This inefficency (cost & hassle factor) will be eliminated by transactions that clear, offerings that expire in reaction to pre-established response criteria, or publication under real time control by advertisers.
5) Reputation/Trust based: Anonymous posting will be supported, and facilitated by “blind/double-blind” real-time and asynchronous actions. But, for certain services (e.g., baby sitting, mechanics, doctors, lawyers), certain types of merchandise (e.g., used cars) and “high priced” products (whatever that might be from the buyers perspective), the buyer & seller’s reputation will be critical; amongst other techniques, reputation will be vetted by who you are in relationship to me (i.e., social networking). Need an example? Check out InsiderPages.com (my take here).
6) Disintermediated: Most importantly, IMO, the days of classified listing aggregation (e.g., Monster.com, Apartments.com, etc) are marked. Rather, an open offer exchange, fed by XML (i.e., RSS) formatted listings and needs, will route the right listings to the right people, based on all of the aforementioned parameters. Some proof? Feedster is starting the assault on the employment from with jobs.feedster.com; RSS readers could be made smarter to match opportunities between feeds (points to my post); and finally, RSS feeds could also be used to identify and filter interests (my blog again).