Kijiji in the US, we weren't impressed. "Kijiji has a hard to pronounce/spell name, an uninviting splash page, and a month later major metros like New York and San Francisco (confusingly labeled as "Bay Area") have just a handful of listings," we wrote at then. Rather, we thought Gumtree, a more straight Craigslist clone that was at the time the most popular classifieds site in Britain, would be more successful when eBay brought it stateside. At year's end, it looks like we backed the wrong horse.In August, a month after eBay launch their Craigslist competitor
eBay's multi-pronged classifieds strategy also includes Loquo and Marktplaats. But it is Kijiji that has provided most of the growth for eBay's classifieds unit, which saw year over year revenue jump by 105% in 2007.
Currently, Kijiji has about 250,000 ads on the site -- compared to Craigslist, whose users post about 30 million new ads each month, that doesn't seem like many (to be fair, the Craigslist number includes international posts). But comparing stats with Craigslist will make everything Kijiji does look trivial, and that may not be the case.
A fight between eBay and Craigslist may look like David vs. Goliath (where Goliath is confusingly playing the part of David), but as eBay spokesman Jose Malbo told the New York Times in August, eBay believes that classifieds "is a very diverse market that clearly wants more choice." And as more local ad spending moves online and out of newspapers (local newspaper ad spending was down 8% in the first half of 2007), there appears to be a growing market that eBay can take a chunk of. Unlike Craigslist, eBay's classifieds site is built with a single goal in mind: making money.
According to Nielsen, Kijiji US is getting about 1.8 million visitors -- that's still well shy of the 20 million that Craigslist gets, but significant because no other small player has yet cracked the 1 million mark (Nielsen). That includes efforts from large companies like Microsoft, whose LiveExpo service has failed to capture much market share.
eBay plans to staff up Kijiji over the next year, and launch more localized versions of the site, like the Spanish language one it already launched in Miami. "Weve had half a person dedicated to the U.S. launch," Kijiji VP and GM Jacob Aqraou told the New York Times. "Next year, well fully be up to the level of resources we should be putting against this."