How hard is it to do online classifieds right?

Along with Quebecor’s acquisition of Osprey comes news that they’ve launched yet another online classifieds website. The Gazette’s Roberto Rocha correctly points out that they have stiff competition from everyone else out there. Some are run by big media companies, and others don’t suck.

I’m forever confused as to why big newspaper owners put out such horrible online classified sites. They senselessly limit their audience to just those areas where they own newspapers. They charge ridiculously high fees for simple ads online when others give away the space for free. They make their websites crazy-complicated while the incredibly popular Craigslist keeps it simple.

I mean, if you’re trying to outdo Craigslist, wouldn’t you at least want to copy some of their good ideas?


Here’s some examples of what I’m talking about:

Transcontinental’s Merkado.ca:

  • Forces you to choose a city first, from a giant list that doesn’t include Montreal.
  • Form includes confusing labels like “Price order” and “Particular”
  • A search for employment in Montreal brings up ads for phones, loans and hoses.
  • Taking a page from “Greatest Search Engine Optimization Tips of 1995”, their search results page’s title is: “Petites annonces Employment Opportunities – Classifieds. Classified Ads – Free Classifieds. Post Free Classified Ads. Classifieds from everywhere! Buy, rent or place a free ad to sell.”
  • Each page also has a 500-word, three-paragraph marketing pitch that wasn’t properly run through spell-check
  • The website has a “Terms of use” and a “User’s convention”, which it turns out is another, entirely separate, terms of use.
  • No listings West of Ontario, except for Saskatchewan.

Quebecor’s (Canoe) Classified Extra:

  • Has no search results for employment in Montreal.
  • Is box-crazy with the layout, so you have no idea what it is you’re looking for.
  • Puts text ads under a banner marked “RESULTS” so you think that’s what you’re looking for.
  • If you tell it to post an employment ad, it tells you to go to Jobboom instead. Or maybe it’s just a suggestion. Do they want my ad or not?
  • “Copyright 2006”

CanWest’s working.com/renting.ca/driving.ca/etc.:

  • Homepage implies you’re out of luck if you don’t live in the 10 cities (none East of Montreal) where CanWest owns major dailies.
  • Part of the Canada.com network, which doesn’t suck have as much as it used to, but still sucks. (Do I really need one-click access to a Toronto lite-rock radio station’s website when I’m searching for classifieds in Montreal?)
  • Classifieds Channels” (upper left) has improper capitalization, and feels the need to specify that “DRIVING” refers to automobiles.
  • Despite the monolithic nature of Canada.com’s websites, each different type of classified has its own domain, its own website, its own colour scheme and its own layout.
  • Placing an ad for a job costs (and I wish I was making this up) $484.29 each. Similarly, placing an ad for an apartment only online for four days costs $75. Has anyone ever actually gotten sucked into this scam?
  • The Working.com website (at least) provides RSS feeds for bloggers to put online (because bloggers are all about giving free publicity to big companies), but the listings include only one and two-word descriptions for jobs.

Power Corporation (La Presse)’s cvendu.ca/livedeal.ca:

  • Doesn’t know what its name is. Title says livedeal.ca, but big logo says cvendu.ca.
  • Another nauseatingly-long title: “livedeal.ca – Des annonces classées locales gratuites en ligne? Achat et vente d’autos, d’animaux de compagnie, de meubles, d’immobilier et beaucoup plus encore!”
  • Also needs a spell/grammar check.

Le Devoir’s Petites Annonces:

  • Apparently doesn’t exist. Clicking the link at the bottom of the homepage for “Petites Annonces” results in a 404 Page Not Found.

2 thoughts on “How hard is it to do online classifieds right?

  1. Pingback: Fagstein » Newspapers are a sinking ship - and have only themselves to blame

  2. Pingback: Fagstein » More bad web programming

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