google launching a classifieds aggregator and listing service is big exciting news for web 2.0. for me it just hastens the world of free data that we’re inevitably headed for. if you go back one of my posts from a few days ago (forgetting which) i talked about exactly this or was that an email to a vc (it’s late and i’m not sure).
my point was that google started with news. they aggregated it and became the first place to look. if your news wasnt crawled – ie. your data wasnt free – it now doesnt exist for 30% of net users. this will play itself out with every category. ask google for bmw’s for sale. you wont find ebay’s because they dont allow crawling. i dont think you’ll find cars.com either. you will find craigslist. lets see, who has the better economic model…ebay and cars pay huge marketing dollars to get us to remember to check their site while craig just lets you list for free and then google show it for free. he doesnt make money on that transaction but i’m guessing he could make a ton from every car advertiser and leadgen company out there if he wanted to.
i’m not sure whether i believe that people will have much incentive to list with google, especially if they decided to charge you like adwords. but i do believe that people will be happy to search on google and thats all they need to monetize this traffic. in fact adwords is already set up to enable this but will just get more specific and valuable.
here’s an ironic comment from craig donato in arguing that google shouldnt be going into the classifieds aggregation business.
"As soon as you start competing with some of the people that you are indexing, it creates a completely different dynamic," said Craig Donato, chief executive of Oodle.com, a search engine that pools listings from dozens of classified advertising sites.
now i have a ton of respect for craig and the companies he’s built directly and indirectly, but craig, this doesnt make sense. i must be missing something. arent you running a service that scrapes other classifieds sites but doesnt allow your own to be scraped? arent you competing with the sites that you are ‘indexing’? isnt the hope for oodle that people will go to you first and then click on ads you sell while looking at classifieds from other sites. i get that you’re not allowing users to create listings but seems like a small diff.