Newspapers' classifieds conundrum

Wired's Gary Wolf examines the advice that Alan Jacobson, a designer and strategic consultant, dispensed to newspapers, namely on how the media should...

Wired's Gary Wolf examines the advice that Alan Jacobson, a designer and strategic consultant, dispensed to newspapers, namely on how the media should handle "the collapse of classified advertising revenue" and beat Craigslist.

Wolf doesn't disagree with some of Jacobson's advice, such as "make it easy to use," but he takes issue with several points, and offers some of his own ideas.
It seems to me that Jacobson and his colleagues (and the newspapers that hire them) are focused on the wrong thing. They seek a competitive advantage mainly through advertising and upselling. But these are methods of increasing revenue, not of helping anybody buy or sell. So people stay away. No people, no market...

A plan to compete with craigslist by scraping it is to invite a geek-on-geek arms race that most newspapers are ill-suited for. What is true of newspapers, however, is not true of successful tech companies, especially those already expert at managing online commercial transactions. If newspapers can’t find a way beat craigslist, how about its real competitors? How about eBay? I’ll try to answer that question in the next post.

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