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Targeted classified adverts coming soon to a PC near you

The big companies will hone in on us. Sites offering free online classifieds will also feature targeted paid-for adverts that are context-specific and highly compelling. Considering that the average user’s online time in the US has grown to more than 16 hours a week, the Internet advertising revolution is something one needs to consider when looking for where the smart money is.Internet advertising is where much of the online action is these days.

Take America Online (AOL), for example, which is looking to drop its subscription fees in an effort to retain its customer base. It used to have 26 million subscribers just 4 years ago. Now that figure is down to 18 million.

Turns out that critical mass is where it’s at. With broadband access and free e-mail in the form of Gmail and Hotmail and so on, AOL is having to review its business strategy. It needs to retain its user base – in short, the eyeballs translate into valuable advertising revenues.

As long as we have critical mass, we will always have adverts pushed down our throats. This much is for sure whether we are talking about the virtual or physical world. AOL is about to take a big gamble and it clearly is sending out a message that advertising revenues are paramount.

In the past year I have been looking into the cost of online advertising on some leading sites. It is pretty expensive. One thing is for sure, the hot spots on the Net are taken very seriously.

Classifieds space is one part of the advertising landscape that is being transformed in rather intriguing ways. It started with the famous Craigslist, and recently Microsoft’s Expo Live moved from its beta testing phase to a fully functioning site. And let’s not forget Google Base. We are seeing free classified ads serving as content alongside paid-for advertising! It’s like classified ads are being treated like a news article of a feature story.

“Networking classifieds” are going to be a big thing. It is estimated that the online classifieds space is going to grow at more than 10 percent each year, compounded, for the next five years. This domain is opportunity city.

The traditional classifieds outlets, namely newspaper companies, are definitely going to see a decline in their revenues. I don’t think they are going to disappear but they are under threat.

In this coming year, we will experience a lot more creativity in the way classifieds are presented on the Internet.

Big corporations will be looking and learning about who we are and what we do by examining our search behaviour when it comes to classifieds.

They will mine data in an effort to find out where we live, what sort of jobs we are looking for, what we like to eat and drive. And this will result in tailor-made targeted ads, coming soon to your PC.

The big companies will hone in on us. Sites offering free online classifieds will also feature targeted paid-for adverts that are context-specific and highly compelling. Considering that the average user’s online time in the US has grown to more than 16 hours a week, the Internet advertising revolution is something one needs to consider when looking for where the smart money is.

  • Ronnie Apteker is one of the founders of Internet Solutions, the country’s largest corporate Internet service provider. He is also a movie producer, an author of two books and sometimes a stand up comedian.

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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