You probably heard of Craigslist and Gumtree, both massive successful classified websites in their own right, which offer buyers and sellers an opportunity to interact in an open and fair market. The success of these sites has inspired African entrepreneurs to tap into the classified market as a mode of internet marketing. With that, we have to ask, just how viable are the African classified sites?
When it comes to revenue, Craigslist has had tremendous success over the years, garnering over $150 million. A huge chunk of this money comes from paid job adverts from various cities. The site attracts over twenty billion views per month, securing its place as number 37 among the most viewed websites in the world. Craigslist features over 80 million classified ads every month, ranging from personal ads, job listings, classic buy/sell ads, and adult services. Even with this much success, the brand has received its own share of criticism. One notorious critic is 2007 appeal laid out by Atlanta’s mayor, Shirley Franklin, who claimed that the site was inadvertently promoting child prostitution through its classified ads. Several other states have criticized Craigslist’s ‘erotic services’ ads section, citing its use for promoting prostitution. However, the site has taken steps towards this, by replacing the ‘erotic section’ with an ‘adult section’ the content of which is reviewed by Craigslist employees.
Now that we are well aware of what the top classified site, Craigslist, is all about, can African classified sites match to that standard? In truth, most African classified websites are tailored using different business models and technical functionality, compared to Craigslist or other classified giants across the continents. Some notorious African sites include Junkmail.co.za, Vottle.com, and NetAds24.com. Even though these sites are different in one way or the other, they all have one common goal: to provide an open market for its users.
One online classified site success story is Txtoweb in Nigeria, which allows its users to post classified ads from their cell phones directly into the website. This strategy has made it easier to post classified ads onto the website, as well as has seen it garner a lot of traffic.
Cameroonian based Kerawa.com is yet another classified site with an admirable revenue model. Kerawa gets most of its revenue from Goggle AdSense, which focuses mainly on commercial content such as job listings, properties, and other items for sale. Having a Google AdSense Inventory is particularly helpful as Google advertisers typically spend a lot of money and time on the listed categories.
From the two examples, it’s clear that African classified websites are indeed viable. They may have a different business model and an uneven functionality, but that is what makes them unique and successful. However, seeing as classified websites are still newly developing phenomena in the African business industry, it still needs time and trust before these sites can garner tons of traction and have a stable flow of income such as Craigslist.