Classified advertising is a form of advertising which is commonly visible in newspapers, magazines, periodicals and over the internet. They are short advertising messages, generally grouped under specific headings (known as classifications, classes or categories), in a separate section, and may be charged or distributed free of cost.
Generally, termed as “want” ads, classified advertisements are relatively cheaper as the content is short and are charged on the basis of characters, words or lines. The following is a brief history of classified advertisements :
- Public Notice Carving :
The oldest form of classified ads can be traced back all the way to 2000 BC, when the Ancient Egyptians invented outdoor advertising as they carved public notices into steel. They also made use of papyrus to create sales messages and various wall posters.
Later, in around 59 BC, the Roman Empire started publishing Acta Diurna (Daily Acts) or government announced bulletins, as ordered by the then Roman general, Julius Caesar. They started carving the notices in stone or metal (since these were the most commonly used materials back then) and posted them in public places.
- Handwritten News Sheets :
During the Imperial China period, court officials made use of news sheets, referred to as “Tipao”, which were produced by the government. This was during the late Han dynasty. Tipao, which literally meant “reports from the official residences,” were a publication issued by both the local and the central governments in imperial China. These publications dated as early as 206 BC – 220 BC (Han Dynasty).
News Sheets were handwritten on silk and strictly meant to be read by government officials only.
- Public Poster Advertisements :
The first handwritten notices date back all the way to the 15th century. These notices used to appear in various public places, nailed on numerous posts and walls in England.
During the mid 1600s, notices for lost property had become extremely common. Also, it was during this period when the handbill emerged in England. The handbill used to be a small printed ad, notice or announcement distributed by hand.
- Newspaper Classifieds :
The form of classified advertisement which is known to us today, was first recorded in the year 1704, when the very first newspaper advertisement was placed in the Boston News-Letter, on the lookout for a buyer for an Oyster Bay, Long Island, Estate. This ad literally marked the birth of newspaper classifieds. About 14 years later (in 1718), the weekly Jamaica Courant followed the trend in Kingston.
By 2007, about 6,580 daily newspapers in the world selling around 395 copies a day already existed. The newspaper industry continued to grow until 2008, when economic recession posed a setback to the entire world. The worldwide economic crisis, coupled with the rapid growth of internet-based alternatives, saw a serious decline in newspaper advertising and circulation of diurnal newspapers. In fact, most papers had closed business while others had cut back operations.
With the continuation of increase in online classifieds, newspaper’s revenues from classified ads continued to drop. In 2007, classified advertising for some of the largest newspaper chains had dropped by a good 14-20 percent, while traffic to classified websites grew by 23 percent, clearly showing how online classifieds were gaining more popularity than the newspaper classifieds.
According to NAA, between 2002 and 2012, classified advertisements suffered a major decline accounting to around 71 percent (from $15,898 to $4,626 in revenue). This decline was mostly attributed to the emergence of web-based classified alternatives.
- Online Classifieds :
By the year 1995, the internet disruption of classified ads started. Two new companies were established in 1995: AdOne and Craigslist. AdOne is known to be one of the oldest classified websites in the world.
Craigslist is another site held responsible for popularizing online classifieds. Craigslist is a classified ad website where the ads are classified into different sections. Today, there are hundreds of alternatives and free online classifieds to choose from.
- Social Classifieds :
Multiple social networks like Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, and others started offering a platform for social classified ads. These social networks enabled their users to promote sales for products and services within the social network.
In May 2007, about 3 years after the launch of Facebook, the Facebook marketplace was introduced, allowing users to post classified advertisements without being charged. These free ads fell within the following categories – Housing, For sale, Jobs, and Other.
In March 2009, a new version of the Marketplace application was launched. Oodle, an online marketplace based out of California, powered the new version.
- Classifieds on Mobile Phones and Tablets :
With the introduction of smartphones and tablets, posting and searching on online classified platforms became a growing trend. Currently, there are over 300 mobile apps for classified advertising on the iPhone and Android alone, competing for a strong clientele base. Responsive websites like www.releasemyad.com adopt any device, irrespective of the size or orientation. The mobile application further enhances the process of booking classified advertisements online.