Just about anyone with an internet connection must be aware of the boom in online classifieds sites by now. There are squillions of them, with more popping up almost daily.
It's such a huge shift that it's seen as one of the major causes of the worldwide decline of print media. Before the internet, many newspapers relied heavily on the revenue from classified advertising, particularly the real estate listings. These were often called the "rivers of gold". But with so many people advertising for free or next to nothing online, those rivers have pretty well dried up. And without all that cash flowing through the coffers, there's been less and less left to pay journalists, editors and other staff members.
It's a big change, and you see evidence of it online all the time. And today, I saw its impact offline. I was travelling in a bus through Marrickville, in Sydney's inner west, and I saw a big street sign that said something like "advertise for free". Underneath it was the URL Ubuysell.com.au.
I'd never seen this particular site before, so I made a mental note of it and had a look when I got home earlier today. I did a backlink check with Yahoo and saw that it had very few backlinks. That's probably why I hadn't seen it in searches. Still, it seems pretty well established, having been around for a few years. Quite a few people are advertising stuff. Obviously that sign has been working very well!