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)