Online classifieds ad specialist Oodle will soon begin handling Facebooks's "Marketplace" ad application, and Oodle CEO and Founder Craig Donato said one of his goals is to capitalize on Oodle's ability to be a "weirdo filter."
He was talking about a basic problem with some other classifieds ad systems: An inability to shield sellers from dealing with unsavory characters. Donato's plan for enhancing Marketplace includes using Facebook information on users to give sellers insight into their prospective customers. "We think this is very big opportunity to approach online classifieds with the idea in mind that it is a very social experience," said Donato. "With classifieds, you hook up with the buyers online, but it always ends in face-to-face interaction. It always has this social component."
With the Oodle-powered Facebook classified ad application Donato envisions, sellers will be able to sell their stuff only to people they "know something about."
Oodle will begin operating Marketplace sometime in the first quarter of next year. For Facebook users, Donato said the app can be a great place to give unwanted items to friends, or to sell them cheaply. "If my kid outgrows his bike, I'm not going to sell it," he said. "But I might give it to friends who have a kid."
He said people are reluctant to send out e-mails making such offers to friends. Posting the items on Marketplace is a much less annoying alternative, Donato suggested. "There is a real opportunity through environments like Facebook where people can very lightly communicate and share and trade with people they know," he said.
He's not the first classifieds firm to see potential in social networks. Two years ago, SimplyHired struck a deal with Fox Interactive Media to power a job search area on MySpace.
As for how Oodle will make money from the deal, Donato was somewhat guarded. He said his company will get money from the type of ads currently running on Marketplace and he noted that about 25 percent of the ads Oodle runs on its own site and for other companies are paid classifieds purchased by commercial entities such as car dealers.
While he did not say the Facebook app will have this feature, Oodle also offers bid-based ad placement. Donato equated this product to Google Adsense. "Anyone can push listings into the Oodle network for free, but people can also associate bids to their ads," he said. "Specific rules vary per site, but when folks bid more, they get more traffic."
Oodle aggregates more than 500,000 new listings daily from more than 80,000 different sites and allows sellers to post everywhere.
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