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Classified advertising

Classified advertisements in a newspaper

Classified advertising is a form of advertising, particularly common in newspapers, online and other periodicals, which may be sold or distributed free of charge. Classified advertisements are much cheaper than larger display advertisements used by businesses,[1] although display advertising is more widespread.[2] They were also commonly called "want" ads, starting in 1763,[3] and are sometimes called small ads in Britain.[4]

Newspaper classifieds

A classified advert selling ukuleles

Advertisements in a newspaper are typically short, as they are charged for by the line or word, and are one newspaper column wide.

Publications printing news or other information often have sections of classified advertisements; there are also publications that contain only advertisements. The advertisements are grouped into categories or classes such as "for sale—telephones", "wanted—kitchen appliances", and "services—plumbing", hence the term "classified". Classified ads generally fall into two types: individuals advertising sales of their personal goods, and advertisements by local businesses. Some businesses use classified ads to hire new employees.[2]

One issue with newspaper classified advertising is that it does not allow images,[5] even though display ads, which do allow images, can be found in the classified section.[2]


In recent years the term "classified advertising" or "classified ads" has expanded from merely the sense of print advertisements in periodicals to include similar types of advertising on computer services, radio, and even television, particularly cable television but occasionally broadcast television as well, with the latter occurring typically very early in the morning hours.[6]

Like most forms of printed media, the classified ad has found its way to the Internet, as newspapers have taken their classified ads online and new groups have discovered the benefits of classified advertising.[2]

Internet classified ads do not typically use per-line pricing models, so they tend to be longer. They are also searchable, unlike printed material, and may foster a greater sense of urgency as a result of their daily structure and wider scope for audiences. Because of their self-regulatory nature and low cost structures, some companies offer free classifieds internationally. Other companies focus mainly on their local hometown region, while others blanket urban areas by using postal codes. was one of the first online classified sites, and has grown to become the largest classified source, bringing in over 14 million unique visitors a month according to Comscore Media Metrix.[citation needed] The sex ad section of the site was probed by authorities until it was shut down indefinitely.[7] A growing number of sites and companies have begun to provide specialized classified marketplaces online, catering to niche market products and services, such as boats, pianos, pets, and adult services, among others. Facebook marketplace provides classified-style services but prohibits the sale of firearms.[8]

A number of online services called aggregators crawl and aggregate classifieds from sources such as blogs and RSS feeds, as opposed to relying on manually submitted listings.

Additionally, other companies provide online advertising services and tools to assist members in designing online ads using professional ad templates and then automatically distributing the finished ads to the various online ad directories as part of their service. In this sense these companies act as both an application service provider and a content delivery platform.


In 2022, the digital classifieds market generated around $21 billion in worldwide revenue, according to a report by Statista.[9]

Newspaper's revenue from classifieds advertisements is decreasing continually as internet classifieds grow. Classified advertising at some of the larger newspaper chains dropped by 14% to 20% in 2007, while traffic to classified sites grew by 23%.[10]

As the online classified advertising sector develops, there is an increasing emphasis toward specialization. Vertical markets for classifieds are developing quickly along with the general marketplace for classifieds websites. Like search engines, classified websites are often specialized, with sites providing advertising platforms for niche markets of buyers or sellers.

See also


  1. ^ Cohen, William A. (1996). Building a Mail Order Business: A Complete Manual for Success (4th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780471109464.
  2. ^ a b c d Wells, William; Moriarty, Sandra; Burnett, John (2006). Advertising: Principles and Practice (7th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall. p. 217. ISBN 9780131465602.
  3. ^ Danna, Sanny (2002). "Classified Advertising". The Advertising Age Encyclopedia of Advertising. New York: Routledge. pp. 349–373. doi:10.4324/9781315062754-31. ISBN 9781135949068.
  4. ^ "Definition of small ad". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  5. ^ "10 Tips for Unleashing the Power of Classified Ads". Entrepreneur. 9 January 2007. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Used Buy And Sell". Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  7. ^ "Craigslist is Subpoenaed over Sex Ads". The New York Times. 3 May 2010.
  8. ^ "People are using code words to sell firearms via Facebook".
  9. ^ "Classifieds: market data & analysis". Statista. Retrieved 1 November 2023.
  10. ^ Diaz, Sam (31 August 2007). "On the Internet, a Tangled Web of Classified Ads". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
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Classified advertising
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