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The Roundup June 9 Madmen edition

Craigslist is about to turn 100 this year!

Classified and community site Craigslist is on track to generate $100 million in revenue this year, according to estimates by AIM Group/Classified Intelligence.

The number is a 23 percent increase from 2008 when the group pegged Craigslist’s revenue at $81 million. When the AIM Group began estimating Craigslist’s revenue in 2003, it was at $7 million.

(“Craigslist on Track to Reach $100 Mil.,” Adweek, June 10) None of that projected revenue, by the way, will come from charging folks for erotic services, oops, adult services ads. Which are not, we repeat, not, never, ever ads for prostitution. No. Never. That money, you know, the money for all those ads that are not prostitution ads, is supposed to go to charity (I say Focus On The Family, that would be funny). Today’s news, though, helps us to focus on the Craig’s List formula for success: 1) do one basic service well; 2) no changes, not even to the interface; 3) stay private – no interference from investors; 4) stay focused; 5) stay small and cut costs (Craig’s List has 30 employees). Any other startup would have attracted tons of investor money, rented a big building in Palo Alto, hired hundreds of people, and tweaked and tooted their service until it looked like Huffington Post with classified ads. Oh, and they’d probably be rolling out a new search service this week to take on Google. And all that $100 million revenue wouldn’t be enough to pay the phone bill.

So, how would you sell a lot full of cars that no-one wants?

But GM dealers are reporting a mixed bag when it comes to traffic and new-vehicle sales since the auto giant filed for restructuring June 1. Deals abound and dealers are getting creative; one is even throwing a put “Pontiac out to pasture” and a “Gettin’ Outta Dodge” sale.

(“Regional GM Dealers Get Creative to Clear Out Inventory,” Advertising Age, June 9) We’re not going to see enough stories dealing with the hundreds of dealers who now have to liquidate car inventory around the country. A lot of lucky buyers,though, are going to end up with some pretty sweet machines for half price or even better. What doubles the deal is that the warranties will be backed by the government, so it’s just as good as buying a non-liquidation car. You can get as creative as you want, but when the show’s up, there’s no choice but to take a loss. It is the one and only area where giving away the store is not only a good idea, it’s the only idea on the table.

Measuring 21st century media with 20th century tools.

(“Magazine Researchers Explore New Ways to Weigh Ad Impact ,” New York Times, June 9) You may wonder why we’ve cherry-picked such a specialized article for a roundup, but this is actually a very important piece of news. I have certainly done my share of magazine media placement and I’m here to tell you that this year presents more opportunities than ever before. The virtue of the old style of audience measurement is that it helped capture important demographic and consumer information about readers — something you couldn’t do on television or, later, online. More importantly, it captured “secondary” magazine readers, all the Joes and Janes who read a magazine because it was sitting around in an office, waiting room, or just hanging out on a grocery shelf. This is enormously helpful data. But it was all kooky when it came to low circulation magazines; the testing samples weren’t large enough to really pin down who was reading the small circulation magazines. Well, it’s precisely those magazines that offer the greatest opportunities for start-ups and small businesses to enter the world of magazine advertising. The new measurements promise to give us a better picture of that readership. So, as you start to ponder a magazine ad campaign, you’ll be able to focus on the increasingly better deals offered by small circulation magazines without feeling like your throwing darts blindly.

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