A small start-up in San Francisco is targeting sellers in its quest to find big profits in the booming online classified advertising market. The company will not compete with established players in the space, but will rather enable the posting of listings on numerous sites, with value-added services layered over the top.
vFlyer, a self-funded company with a handful of employees, emerged from stealth mode Tuesday with a new service offering templates and a simplified interface for creating — and posting — virtual fliers on all the major classifieds listing services.
“There are a lot of services targeting the buyer, a lot of established companies doing great things around searching and finding listings. But no one is paying attention to the seller. We want to be the seller’s best friend,” said vFlyer co-founder Oliver Muoto.
In an interview with ClickZ News, Muoto said vFlyer will use a combination of paid subscriptions and advertising embedded in user-generated listings to generate revenue.
The tools offered by vFlyer allow sellers to choose templates from 30 classified ad categories to create professional looking listings with attractive designs. The ads are automatically generated on landing pages hosted by vFlyer.
vFlyer will handle the posting on all the major classified search engines and listing services, including eBay, Google Base, Oodle, Edgeio and Vast. It generates HTML code that can be embedded on services like Craigslist that only accept ads submitted by users.
The listings come with a viral marketing component consisting of a strip across the top offering the ability to forward to a friend, save on a computer, or send to a printing service for bulk printing.
Listings can also be used as an e-mail marketing solution for sellers. Muoto said the service can import e-mail addresses from a user’s address book and auto-send HTML mails to the entire list.
vFlyer will offer a spell-checker, helpful hints during the ad-creation process, graphics that can be customized and a stats counter that keeps track of actual ad views on the third party listing services.
“We’re not a classified ad marketplace. You won’t find ad listings on vFlyer. In many ways, we’re the un-marketplace,” Muotu said.
The business model is two-fold, Muoto explained. The service is free today but the company plans to charge a subscription fee for power sellers. “We’ll have a paid model for certain usage levels and for high-volume users in certain vertical markets. For those users, we’ll provide enhanced services like custom galleries and the ability to use their own logo [on the virtual flyer],” he added.
The company will also sell and embed contextual advertising from Google on the “contact reply form” that appears on every virtual flyer. Muoto said that visitors to that page are considered valuable “in market” eyeballs for businesses offering complementary services.
“We won’t have competing ads there but if the flyer is selling a house, we can put a mortgage company’s ad there,” he explained. .
Google separately introduced a “Store Connector” that allows merchants with a presence on eBay, Amazon or Yahoo to automatically export store information and product listings to Google Base.