Wal-Mart Challenges Craigslist With Free Online Ads

In an attempt to tighten their stranglehold on American consumers, Wal-Mart has quietly launched a free Internet classified ad service, directly challenging Craigslist, the reigning Internet ad champion. The Wall Street Journal says, “The service, which the retailer described as a pilot test, carries 30 million items, including foreclosed homes, basset hounds, Madonna concert tickets and a 1981 Ford Firebird, as Wal-Mart tapped into Oodle Inc.’s menagerie of listings.” More, inside…

Wal-Mart’s free service allows sellers and buyers to haggle over items in 7 different categories, but before you get too excited you may want to check out the list of items which are prohibited from Wal-Marts free ads which include blood, bodily fluids or body parts, animal parts or fluids, nonprescription drugs, prescription drugs and medical devices, including but not limited to defibrillators, hypodermic needles or hearing aids. That about takes all the fun out of it for us.

One thing we like about Craigslist is their relative neutrality. It’s not weighed down by paid sponsors in the way that Google and E-bay seems to be. However, with Wal-Mart’s new service, advertisers can pay Oodle.com for higher placement on their search results. While this surely bolsters income, it could render the service less usable. Unless Wal-Mart thinks such things through, we could see their new internet ads ending up like their online-movie service. Extinct.

Wal-Mart Adds Free Online Classifieds [Wall Street Journal]
Wal-Mart challenges Craigslist [MSN Money]
(Photo: Dysolution)

Comments

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  1. SaveMeJeebus says:

    1981 Ford Firebird? I’ll take one.

  2. Bladefist says:

    Gawd, add 1 more site now I gotta search for a used freezer.

  3. Bladefist says:

    hmm, it seems to be a site that links to other sites. One item took me to my cities newspaper classifieds

  4. amodlin says:

    But will it blend?

  5. crabbyman6 says:

    This seems to be a pretty useful service, as long as its free, even if it is run by Wal-Mart. I’m kind of disappointed that its not Wal-Mart only listings though, I’d love to see the stuff that got listed in that case.

  6. friendlynerd says:

    Does Pontiac know Ford is building Firebirds? They’re gonna be pissed….

  7. Amanduh says:

    I forgot how ridiculous my city’s newest landmark looks, thanks for the picture. (Baton Rouge, LA if you care)

  8. AstroPig7 says:

    @SaveMeJeebus: Maybe that’s used car parlance for “slight smoke damage”.

  9. SkokieGuy says:

    Hmmn, just went and looked, and unimpressed.

    In the personals section, every listing listed a site where the original posting was. The site seems more like an agregator than a location of fresh content.

    I especially loved the personal who’s main photo was a large ejaculating penis. So in tune with those Walmart family values.

    To all you pervs, let me save you the search time. [chicago.oodle.com] – then scroll down a bit.

  10. Carl3000 says:

    They have been haphazardly trying to extend into new territory lately. Didn’t they also try to make an iTunes and a Myspace which both turned out equally awful?

    Also LOL @ the church of wal mart supercenter

  11. Hopefully I can get some awesome lead tainted made in China goods which also helped put some American factory workers out of work.
    Thank you Wal-Mart!!!

  12. catnapped says:

    @Carl3000: Didn’t they also try movie rentals which also sunk like a lead balloon?

  13. sgodun says:

    1981 Ford Firebird?

  14. darkstarX420 says:

    I don’t get what their angle is. As a notoriously cheap person, two of my main sources of home furnishings and clothes are Walmart and the secondhand universe (thrift stores, Craigslist, Ebay, etc.) It seems like Walmart benefits from having cheap crap that is comparable to secondhand prices and people can just go their their stuff for cheap at the store rather than looking around and haggling. I guess its a form of horizontal integration, where Walmart can be the source of your cheap shit, no matter how you get it.

  15. IC18 says:

    The foreclosed home ads is just a link to a another site that requires a subscription to view the details. There all just links pushed into one listing. I could have just used Google or other search engines, this is pathetic. Free my Ass.

  16. SkokieGuy says:

    Since they are clearly publishing content from other (paid) sites, I wonder about copyright issues?

    I have a hard time believing that Walmart obtained permission from every website who’s content is being republished, as well as from the actual person who created each posting on these other sites.

    The logistics of obtaining and documenting these permissions is mind boggling. Even if a site gave blanket rights to Walmart, would individual posters have to give their consent?

    In the case of a personal ad, I might be willing to have my photo and personal details posted on a site that access is limited to only other paid members, but not be willing to have it broadcast everywhere by a third party.

  17. ryan_h says:

    The only way I see this being a big hit, is if walmart opens free internet cafes in it’s stores, touting this service. But then, we will have to worry about the inevitable flood of “I know you may find this shocking” nigerian millionaire style emails, heading our way from exotic locals such as Kentucky, Iowa, West VA ETC……

  18. S-the-K says:

    I don’t think I object to paid ads appearing above free ads, as long as they are labeled as such. If paid ads are appearing above non- or less-paid ads but appear to be actual search results, then I have a problem with that.

  19. Shannon says:

    I think it’s a Ford Thunderbird… Uh. I hate ford.

  20. darkryd says:

    One catch – you must show proof of a mullet before being allowed to access the site.

  21. Trai_Dep says:

    @SkokieGuy:

    To all you pervs, let me save you the search time…

    You know your audience so well, it’s scary. :P

  22. SkokieGuy says:

    So Trai, what did you think when YOU looked?

    Seriously, who’s going to forward the details of porn on a Walmart owned website to some religious extremist group? Maybe the people who protested the ‘slutty’ drawing of the Starbucks Mermaid? [consumerist.com]

    I want to watch, it will be like the Fourth of July as their heads explode.

  23. se7a7n7 says:

    I guess I’m still going to have to use Craigslist to sell animal fluids.

  24. SkokieGuy says:

    @se7a7n7: Milk? Fish Oil capsules for extra Omega 3?

  25. coren says:

    @SkokieGuy: Urine!

    So, Walmart is making me view ads so they can tell me what site that I already search through has what I’m searching for?

    This sounds like a winning business proposal…I think I’m going to have a service that will tell you what items are on Walmart’s website!

  26. RandomHookup says:

    Until they offer Casual Encounters, it won’t be the same.

  27. dumblonde says:

    So… those three crosses behind the Wal-Mart. wtf!

  28. BiscuitDoughJones says:

    @dumblonde: Uh, yeah. That Wal-Mart is in Baton Rouge, LA. No telling what posessed the extremely small but vocal Baptist population to pay to build those crosses where they did, but I’m pretty sure the proximity to Wal-Mart is a coincidence.

  29. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Carl3000:

    This site doesn’t look haphazard to me. Browsing isn’t as straightforward as Craigslist, but right off the bat I can spot one MAJOR advantage over Craigslist (and Kijiji) that is of particular importance in “Walmart country,” the parts of the country where Walmart either completely dominates the local economy, or is at least the only option for SOME things.

    They do not limit themselves to large and some medium-sized cities, and then count on people not in those cities to list in the nearest one.

    I’m living halfway between Las Vegas and Flagstaff…it’s 100 miles to either one. Neither is appropriate for me to use, really. When I listed a kitten on Craigslist, the only people who responded either didn’t pay attention to the location or just had no idea where it was. People living here either don’t know about Craigslist, or they see it and don’t see any “Kingman” option so they assume there’s nothing there.

    This site is far less restrictive with locations, and has better geographical searching.

    I clicked the link wanting to hate it (and I DO hate that 90 percent of the car ads I saw are dealerships), but I’ve got to admit…this could dominate small-town America if Craigslist doesn’t start actually responding to requests to expand. Every time I’ve looked in the past almost 2 years, there have been people requesting a CA-NV-AZ tri-state area site, usually 2 or 3 current messages on that board at any given time. Nothing.

  30. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    I think my very first attempt to use their site is all anyone needs to decide if this will be a success or a miserable failure.

    Here’s the result I got:

    “Oops! We couldn’t find the location new jersey. Check the spelling, or try a different city & state or zip code.”

  31. lawnmowerdeth says:

    I just hope they’re less Nazi-like in their flagging than Craigslisters are. At least in the STL listings, there seems to be a few people with nothing better to do than flag posts all day for no reason.

  32. TheNerd says:

    Extinct? I hope so!

  33. garbagehead says:

    @Amanduh: that has to be one the scariest landmarks I have ever seen.