Media designer Alan Jacobson is not always a fan of the ideas presented on this website (he expressed his disdain for the idea in our Classifieds Manifesto, for example, for newspapers to actually start selling things like cars, in addition to just publishing ads), but he does agree that if newspaper publishers would just break out of their old way of thinking, it is possible to regain ground with classifieds.
On RevenueTwoPointZero.com, Jacobson this week urged newspapers to “Build a Better Craigslist.” Says the design consultant who’s worked on some classifieds redesigns himself, “Ironically, CraigsList isn’t particularly well-designed or easy to use. It’s merely easier than the alternatives that newspapers have offered.”
He advocates not only designing a more attractive, easier-to-use, and feature-full CraigsList — and keep it free — but we must also incorporate a sustainable revenue model, such as running paid contextual display ads alongside free classified ads.
Here’s a rundown of his core (and quite simple, really) ideas:
“Here’s how to build a better Craigslist:
- Make it easier to use
- Make it free for the general public
- Serve up context-sensitive, paid ads along with free classified ads
- Provide a forum for feedback on sellers to keep ‘em honest.”
Between Jacobson’s reasonable advice, and some of the ideas and models floated elsewhere on ReinventingClassifieds.com (some of which you, like Jacobson, may think are too far out), why is there still so little classifieds innovation at newspapers?
Have you given up? If you are doing some of this stuff at your newspaper, I’d like to know about it. E-mail me. If you’re not experimenting like crazy with classifieds right now, tell me why not. Because, frankly, I don’t get it.