What Problem Do Blog Classifieds Solve?

from the enlighten-me dept

There's been a lot of buzz in the blogworld about the launch of Edgeio, which appears to be a way of aggregating classified-type listings that people post on blogs. Part of the reason for all the buzz seems to be the association of Michael Arrington with Edgeio. Arrington runs the popular TechCrunch blog that covers all the various Web 2.0-style companies. In some ways, the popularity of this blog acts as a protectionary measure for Edgeio, since many people who work with various companies might not want to upset Arrington and not get covered on his site (which, honestly, is a pretty sweet marketing position to be in for Edgeio).

However, it's interesting to see that just days after Edgeio opened its doors, another, nearly identical, offering is opening up as well, called BlogBuy. It makes you wonder, what's special about Edgeio? Looking over the initial release, it certainly looked like you could hack together an Edgeio clone on top of something like Technorati without too much difficulty. In both cases, the companies try to let people post whatever classified-type information they want via feeds (which doesn't just mean blogs, of course, but most people focus on the blog aspect). It's an interesting way to try to get out from having all of that content "owned" in a central place by the likes of Craigslist -- but what hasn't been made clear is what problem these sites are actually solving. We hadn't heard of people complaining that Craigslist and eBay were too centralized. Also, the business model here seems to be to pay for better listings -- but that relies on unhappiness with Craigslist and eBay again -- something that isn't at all clear. In fact, given the usage patterns on both sites, it seems like people are pretty happy with both. Both have also gone out of their way to accommodate sellers. eBay, especially, has built up a tremendous infrastructure to support their sellers. So, while there's a lot of buzz about these offerings and how they somehow change the game, it's still not clear to us how that game is changed without fulfilling a need. In many ways, actually, it seems similar to the launch of Google base. The concept is interesting, and it could have some potential over time if a big enough community can be built up and additional services/features are added. However, initially... what problem is it solving?



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Joe, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 1:08pm

    Agreed

    I was thinking along the same lines on this one.
    Also, not only are there no barriers to entry on this one, but there aren't even network effects. The way it works, from what I understand, is that bloggers will tag a post with the term "listing", Edgeio will notice that, and then republish it. But if Edgeio can scan blogs for the tag "listing" so too could any other service. In fact, Craigslist could probably integrate these among their listings in a heartbeat. Edgeio won't even have any exclusivity over listings specifically targeted for them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    james, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 1:11pm

    No Subject Given

    I wish there was a way to short sell every company listed on Techcrunch. It has got to be the most accurate collection of lame businesses ever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Eric Yoon, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 2:15pm

    in the jobs space, there are a lot of unhappy cust

    This comment is focused on the jobs part of Edgeio as BlogBuy doesn't seem to have any jobs component to it yet... At the moment, there are a good number of people that are unhappy with job boards. Craigslist still provides great results, but the big boards do tend to leave customers unhappy with the results that they get. Probably one of the few bad things about Craigslist is that, just like the big boards, it really has to focus on metro areas, towns, etc. and it's not everywhere -- so there are wide swaths of places with no great way to reach candidates for jobs.

    I guess that I'm not quite convinced that putting job postings on blogs is the answer most businesses are looking for though. It seems impractical for large enterprises and small businesses alike. Edgeio though is not restricting content to come from blogs only, which is a good thing.

    At the moment, it does seem that Edgeio is a good twist on the current trend of vertical search sites and Google Base. But, I'd somewhat have to agree that, while there is a deep un-met need in the jobs space.. this first iteration of Edgeio doesn't seem to be meeting it. But, it's only been a day or two.. so, I'm very curious to see how it develops.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 4:59pm

    No Subject Given

    Google would have almost cared, but they were laughing to hard at these idiots...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    J.D. Amer, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 5:48pm

    No Subject Given

    The problem it solves is reaching the right customers - of course this only works if it gets copied. Instead of having to visit, craigslist, ebay, edgeio, and googlebase, if I could simply post one listing and have it displayed on all of them, I've saved a lot of time.

    That's not to say that it doesn't create new problems, but I've already criticised Edgeio enough on my own blog.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Mathew Ingram, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 6:15pm

    Edgeio

    How dare you question the great and powerful Oz, er... Mike Arrington? You don't know who you're dealing with, my friend ;-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 28th, 2006 @ 6:52pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    The problem it solves is reaching the right customers - of course this only works if it gets copied. Instead of having to visit, craigslist, ebay, edgeio, and googlebase, if I could simply post one listing and have it displayed on all of them, I've saved a lot of time.

    Maybe. I'm not convinced of this. It's sort of like people who used to talk about how meta-search engines were going to be such a big deal. But they never really caught on because Google was "good enough" and everyone just went there.

    Already, people look for different things on Craigslist or eBay, and they know where to go. The advantage of going broader still remains pretty slight.

    I don't know. I've seen so much hype on this thing, and so much whispered criticism... I'm confused as to what's really there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Michael Edwards, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 9:21pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Hey Mike,
    Thanks for the comments. I agree in a general way that the classifieds market is full of competition. One thing I think you should keep in mind is that most people don't sell most of the junk they have in their garage. That means there is a huge latent market opportunity waiting to be exploited. No matter how big eBay or Craigslist are now, if everyone decided to sell their junk you would have an enormous amount of people and items looking for places to be.
    In the 90's, and even now the conventional wisdom was that A) You don't compete against ebay, and B) you don't compete against Amazon. A) was proven wrong by craigslist which is kind of the anti-ecommerce ecommerce site in a sense because they have totally eschewed the kind of crass comercialization and walmartization that makes the user experience unenjoyable on ebay and other sites. As far as B) is concerned, there should be no DVD only sites. Yet there are dozens of sites that sell dvds, something Amazon should clearly have the entire market for assuming that what we all believed was true. Consider also a site like Zappos.com which sells shoes and is on target to reach $600m revenue this year. Why isn't Amazon the one doing $600m in shoe-sales?
    There are market discontinuities between how these sites are written about and their true market performance -- zappos and craigslist should not exist under late 90's thinking.
    The biggest problem I have with ebay is that they try to own your reputation. How silly is it that you might spend years growing a used computer parts business only to find out that you are shackled to a single company by your feedback ratings? If I'm correct ebay has actually cease & desisted sites that have posted ebay ratings before because they did not want them to be transferable.
    One other thing to consider is how your business model shapes your company. If you're a marketplace like BlogBuy and you don't charge listing or transaction fees you are free to experiment in ways that would be very risky for eBay. There are ideas for features that we have that would most likely not show up on ebay simply because it would lose them business. Our focus is on the user and providing service to them in any way we can.
    We have a lot of work ahead of ourselves and these comments and criticisms help us focus on what's really important, so I thank you. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions (that goes for anyone).
    Michael Edwards
    Founder/CEO BlogBuy
    mbedwards@gmail.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 1st, 2006 @ 3:29am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Michael,

    Thanks for the response and the BlogBuy position. I didn't mean to imply that no one could compete against Craigslist or eBay -- and I apologize if that's how it came across. What I meant was that if you are going to compete against them, you better be solving some sort of problem people are having with those sites.

    For eBay, you believe it's the feedback/ratings system and who owns it. I agree there are issues with that, but I'm not convinced people think of that as a "pain point."

    So, I guess I'm still left wondering what the real pain point is that you're solving.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Michael Edwards, Mar 1st, 2006 @ 8:17am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Thanks for the followup. Type in ebay feedback sucks or simply ebay sucks into Google. For laughs, you could do paypal sucks. Now, I want to be clear here that these are not my statements...I'm not saying these services suck, I'm reporting on what Google thinks other people on the web have said. Your comment about solving a real pain point is valid and we're working on making sure we are doing that and I hope to release some stuff in the coming weeks that shows our focus.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Keith Teare, Mar 1st, 2006 @ 9:31am

    edgeio, hype and reality

    Thanks for discussing edgeio here Mike.
    You make a number of points. Let me try and address them.
    Your first:
    "Part of the reason for all the buzz seems to be the association of Michael Arrington with Edgeio. Arrington runs the popular TechCrunch blog that covers all the various Web 2.0-style companies. In some ways, the popularity of this blog acts as a protectionary measure for Edgeio, since many people who work with various companies might not want to upset Arrington and not get covered on his site (which, honestly, is a pretty sweet marketing position to be in for Edgeio)."
    I can't deny that Mike Arrington (my co-founder at edgeio) has made an almost unbelievable impact with TechCrunch, and that his involvement in edgeio benefits edgeio as a result. As you say it's a pretty sweet marketing position. But - and this is a big but - that is not and was not some kind of plot. Mike built TechCrunch over the last 8 months by hard work and his personality, combined with his enthusiasm for innovation, combning in a way that clearly pleases his 50-60,000 readers. edgeio was being built before that began, and since it started, as an entirely distinct effort. We can seperate them. Please try and do the same.
    And really, anybody who knows Mike will know that if they have criticism of edgeio it is in his nature to want to know and listen to it. Hey, the only way we get better is from making mistakes and having others point them out and correcting them. No criticism would equal no innovation. So, please, if you have specific criticisms (not you but your readers) please let us know. We NEED to know.
    Your second point
    "Looking over the initial release, it certainly looked like you could hack together an Edgeio clone on top of something like Technorati without too much difficulty. In both cases, the companies try to let people post whatever classified-type information they want via feeds (which doesn't just mean blogs, of course, but most people focus on the blog aspect). It's an interesting way to try to get out from having all of that content "owned" in a central place by the likes of Craigslist -- but what hasn't been made clear is what problem these sites are actually solving. We hadn't heard of people complaining that Craigslist and eBay were too centralized. Also, the business model here seems to be to pay for better listings -- but that relies on unhappiness with Craigslist and eBay again -- something that isn't at all clear. In fact, given the usage patterns on both sites, it seems like people are pretty happy with both. Both have also gone out of their way to accommodate sellers. eBay, especially, has built up a tremendous infrastructure to support their sellers. So, while there's a lot of buzz about these offerings and how they somehow change the game, it's still not clear to us how that game is changed without fulfilling a need."
    edgeio is intended first and foremost to leverafe existing behaviors to create a new experience, the ability to buy and sell via a blog. This should make a blog a viable platform for many more people than have them today. A blog as a storefront is clearly an innovation. But does it fulfill a need? Here is our list of needs we fulfill:
    1. The need for listings to be free. CraigsList and Ebay both charge listing fees for some or all sellers. The trend is for these fees to grow and for more sellers to be subject to them. In a world of centralized publishing a listing fee is a tax on a sale. If publishing can move to the edge we can make the fees redundant. The key to doing this is to provide centralized listings with distributed publishing. Thus fulfilling the need to remove listing fees.
    2. The need for small businesses to reduce their sales costs. Store fees and listing fees inhibit the entrepreneurial growth in the small business sector. Compare the number of Yahoo or EBay stores to the number of small businesses with web sites. There is a huge gap in the market where small businesses would like to sell online but can't. Turning a blog into a strefront (free with edgeio) can bring many more small businesses online. Incidentally, the reason edgeio covers a large part of the globe is because we believe this is an international need.
    3. The need for sellers in the 9/10ths of the world EBay and CraigsList doesn't cover to be able to be equal citizens in e-commerce. My Mom lives in Scarborough, UK. It isn't a place recognized by Craig or EBay. It is in the edgeio geobase, along with 3 million other towns anc cities. All these people now need os a palce to publish and edgeio.
    4. The need for better real-time search. edgeio indexes in real time. It provides great rss feeds for any query. Combining these 2 makes a real time alerting system for anything, anywhere. Try it, you'll like it.
    5. The need for better distribution by vendors. A store can only serve it's direct customers, but if the data can be taken from the store and dustributed around the network into new places (always pointing back to the original item) then the store can sell to more people. By seperating data from its original point of publishing and making it free, edgeio is facilitating more people seeing it.
    Mike, there are many more needs we fulfill, but maybe this is sufficient for this conversation to continue to the next level.
    Again, thanks for noticing us, and for giving me the opportunity to encourage criticism.
    We do agre eon one point. Hype isn't useful. But real product development, meeting needs is.
    Best regards
    Keith Teare
    founder/ceo/edgeio

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Ned, Mar 1st, 2006 @ 9:41am

    Yay for Techdirt for pointing the emperor has no c

    Posts like this are why I read Techdirt. I watched Edgeio launch, and I was just baffled. Why is it easier to host what I'm selling on my blog than it is on Craiglist or Ebay?

    First off, my blog isn't for selling things. Stuff for sale would look silly there.

    Second off, if I *did* want to sell stuff on my blog, it wouldn't necessarily be stuff I'd want the readers of my blog to know I was selling. ("Whoops! Sold that lamp you gave me for Christmas!"). Am I supposed to create a commerce blog just for Edgeio?

    It seems like to me that if there are problems with a centrally managed service trying to "own" reputation or item data (the perceived pain point), deciding that there should be no central hsoting service is sort of throwing out the baby with the bath water. The real solution is to make a service which isn't an ogre about the data it collects (an API for the reputation system, say).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    scott, Mar 1st, 2006 @ 10:18am

    Re: edgeio, hype and reality

    > A blog as a storefront is clearly an innovation.

    However, is it innovation for innovation's sake? Why would I subscribe to someone's blog if I know they are simply trying to sell me something?

    If bloggers were already selling products or services in their blogs I would see the value that edgeio is bringing to the table. However, it looks like you will need to push your potential users into performing some new behavior on their part, a very difficult proposition.

    Also, I have heard that edgeio has secured some patents to protect their IP. I am curious what that IP is...a search algorithm...a microformat?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2006 @ 10:19am

    Re: No Subject Given

    "Type in ebay feedback sucks or simply ebay sucks into Google. For laughs, you could do paypal sucks. Now, I want to be clear here that these are not my statements...I'm not saying these services suck, I'm reporting on what Google thinks other people on the web have said. Your comment about solving a real pain point is valid and we're working on making sure we are doing that and I hope to release some stuff in the coming weeks that shows our focus."
    Uh, I don't have an MBA or anything, but I think if you try to validate a business with the search results for "(your competitor here) sucks" from Google, you're pretty screwed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 1st, 2006 @ 10:26am

    Re: edgeio, hype and reality

    Keith,

    Thanks very much for the detailed response. I'm sure we all appreciate you (and Michael from BlogBuy) both coming here and clarifying what it was that I missed about both of your offerings.

    As for the TechCrunch connection, I didn't mean to imply, and I'm sorry if I did, that this was part of some master plan or that Arrington doesn't deserve credit for TechCrunch. Not at all. I don't think it was planned out, and I know that Arrington has worked very hard to make TechCrunch a top destination site. The basis for my statement was the end effect of that -- which is that *multiple* people have commented privately to me that they felt they could not criticize Edgeio on their blogs, even constructively, as it could harm them down the road if they ever needed an endorsement on TechCrunch. That struck me as an interesting phenomenon -- not necessarily a positive or negative one. Just a fascinating one.

    As for the needs you describe:

    1. The need for listings to be free. CraigsList and Ebay both charge listing fees for some or all sellers. The trend is for these fees to grow and for more sellers to be subject to them. In a world of centralized publishing a listing fee is a tax on a sale. If publishing can move to the edge we can make the fees redundant. The key to doing this is to provide centralized listings with distributed publishing. Thus fulfilling the need to remove listing fees.

    I'm not convinced this is a "need" in these circumstances. First off, for Craigslist, almost all listings are free. There are only a very few that they charge for.

    And, as for eBay, it almost seems like the listing fees help keep some aspect of the quality up (not all, obviously), but you get the feeling some people appreciate that small barrier to keeping out all sorts of junk.

    If you read Techdirt, you know that I'm a big fan of companies who figure out how to leverage "free," so perhaps my position seems odd. However, while there are some who dislike the listing fee, I think it still adds credibility to eBay.

    As proof of this, remember that Yahoo has tried getting rid of listing fees and it hasn't really helped their standing in the online auction world.

    2. The need for small businesses to reduce their sales costs. Store fees and listing fees inhibit the entrepreneurial growth in the small business sector. Compare the number of Yahoo or EBay stores to the number of small businesses with web sites. There is a huge gap in the market where small businesses would like to sell online but can't. Turning a blog into a strefront (free with edgeio) can bring many more small businesses online. Incidentally, the reason edgeio covers a large part of the globe is because we believe this is an international need.

    This is an interesting point, and we'll see what happens -- but I'm not yet convinced that the average small business owner will grok the "blog as storefront" concept. Perhaps if Edgeio or someone else builds nice Edgeio-focused tools (which I'm guessing is on your roadmap somewhere). Again, there have been many efforts over the years at making it easy to set up storefronts for small businesses. I haven't seen any evidence that there's a major pain point here -- but perhaps you've seen different data.

    3. The need for sellers in the 9/10ths of the world EBay and CraigsList doesn't cover to be able to be equal citizens in e-commerce. My Mom lives in Scarborough, UK. It isn't a place recognized by Craig or EBay. It is in the edgeio geobase, along with 3 million other towns anc cities. All these people now need os a palce to publish and edgeio.

    For Craigslist, this is a valid point -- but there are reasons for it. Most of the stuff sold on Craigslist is much better sold locally and picked up locally. So you want to have locations with large online populations. When I looked at Edgeio it seemed like a lot of the listings were similar, and a local focus is important. It's nice that you try to cover that spot for other places, but if no one else is online and looking at those places... I'm not sure how big a benefit it is.

    Also, I'm confused as to why eBay doesn't cover the location. Is there no way to log on to eBay's site from there?

    4. The need for better real-time search. edgeio indexes in real time. It provides great rss feeds for any query. Combining these 2 makes a real time alerting system for anything, anywhere. Try it, you'll like it.

    Not sure how this is a competitive advantage. I know Craigslist offers RSS feeds on queries, and I'd be surprised if eBay didn't (or if someone hasn't set up a way to get RSS feeds off of eBay). Also, "real-time" is nice, but I wasn't aware that Craigslist or eBay didn't list things once they were in the system in near real time. And given that most RSS readers only poll less than once an hour... the real-time nature doesn't seem that valuable as long as it's close.

    5. The need for better distribution by vendors. A store can only serve it's direct customers, but if the data can be taken from the store and dustributed around the network into new places (always pointing back to the original item) then the store can sell to more people. By seperating data from its original point of publishing and making it free, edgeio is facilitating more people seeing it.

    Yeah, this point makes sense, in theory. However, it breaks down when you realize that eBay and Craigslist have built up their brands to tremendous levels so that they are the marketplaces people look to. If someone does a quick calculation on the chances of something being seen on eBay or on their blog + Edgeio... it seems like they're going to choose eBay. Hopefully you guys can build up enough of an audience to change that position.

    I think it would be great for eBay to have some more serious competition, and I wish you guys the best of luck. I guess I'm still left confused about what pain point you're solving. Reading through the list, it seems more like you came up with that list after-the-fact to justify what seems like a cool idea.

    I know you have a lot of very smart supporters and advisors and investors (including a few friends of mine). I respect those people's opinions, and assume that I'm missing something... but I guess I still haven't seen the light.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Keith Teare, Mar 1st, 2006 @ 3:50pm

    Re: edgeio, hype and reality

    Hi Mike
    Thanks for the response. Given the content I think we must both step back and see what happens. We probably just disagree and only experience is going to change our views.
    In overview. I certainly feel that the accelerating trend to self-publishing is going to embrace the whole world and that this will include self-publishing of listings, not only of opinions, experience and other prose. And - given that - I believe that this phenomenon will need special tools and services that have, as their starting point, a very different set of goals than centralized publishing services like eBay and CraigsList. And also different business models. edgeio is an attempt to provide the glue between publishers and those interested in their listings, without requiring a central point of publishing.
    My guess - obviously :-) - is that this is filling a big need.
    If we agree to disagree we can look at it in 12 months or so.
    After 2 days we have almost 5000 listings from more than 1200 cities. I'd say I'm quite happy right now. In 12 months we will all know more.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 1st, 2006 @ 5:30pm

    Re: edgeio, hype and reality

    Keith,

    Sounds good. Let's look in 12 months and see. I hope you guys succeed, and in the process I figure out what it is that I missed. :)

    Mike

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Priya, Dec 27th, 2010 @ 10:13pm

    good job very nice

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    zjolster, Jun 10th, 2011 @ 10:05pm

    site to beat craigslist

    I think the site to beat craigslist is jasperdaily.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    shivam, Jun 17th, 2012 @ 12:05am

    free ads

    even today topsites prevail but sites like www.adsfree.co.in is taking that niche very fast.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This