Commentary

What About Video For Classified Ads?

Two weeks ago Bear Stearns (now in the news, of course, for its bailout ) released its online video forecast for 2008 through 2011. The report predicted that video would be at $1.75 billion in 2008, while growing to $4.3 billion by 2011. While some claim the report only reinforces what we are already know, there is still plenty of good information to absorb. I recommend printing before your next flight: http://www.bearstearns.com/bservlet/BSFil e?filePath=I60QwqJMFL0MFhHqI8HkYegbHVSVCr%2bWe4EAYKWikL5LWp6KzJC2Sg%3d%3d&preview=yes.

One segment not included in the report, because it barely exists today, is the connection between video and online classifieds. This is a topic that came to my attention when I was visiting eBay.com this past week.

I have written before regarding my belief that newspapers are in a position to leverage their unique assets and benefit from the video trend. By having journalists and reporters not only file their stories in a video format, but by also providing B-roll or ancillary footage, newspapers can create more and higher-valued ad placements. I see a similar opportunity when it comes to video and classifieds -- with the real question being, who will leverage it?

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As a consumer, I can see that video within classifieds would be a very positive development. While you certainly would not benefit from seeing a video about a baseball ticket you are purchasing, you would benefit from seeing a video about a piece of furniture, a vehicle, or some other more tangible product. Much like virtual tours have allowed home buyers to be much more effective when searching for a property on real estate Web sites, the same could potentially be true for consumers of miscellaneous goods and services.

For all the challenges eBay is facing with decline in use and strikes by sellers, this could be a great way for the company to drive additional revenue by charging fees while giving both its merchants and site visitors a more pleasant and hopefully informed shopping experience. Having a look at the merchant is just as significant as researching the product that merchant is selling. After all, the feedback and ratings for sellers are so important for this online community.

Craig's List is in a different position due to its corporate structure and lack of interest in fully monetizing the site, but I am interested to see if its strategists decide to leverage video as well.

With social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook riding the wave of Web euphoria, the eBay and Craig's Lists of the world should be concerned about the intentions of the social networking sites to branch into commerce. The social networking sites already have the advantage of hosting so much video, which in turn could be integrated with classifieds.

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