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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Craigslist Charging for Auto Dealer Ads

Well we knew it was coming at some point, and it seems like today is the day. Craigslist will begin charging for ads in the "Cars and Trucks - By Dealer" section of their site on December 3rd. As you can see in the screenshot below, a new message is appearing on Craigslist when posting ads as a dealer: "$5 fee per ad in US cities starting 12/3 - questions? ctd@craigslist.org"

$5 fee per ad in US cities starting 12/3 - questions? ctd@craigslist.org

Craigslist has charged listing fees for quite some time in certain markets and certain categories within those markets. This new policy is sure to upset a lot of car dealers because it's always been free for vehicle ads, but the reality is that you can't complain about a free site, and like any other site, there are other advertising options available so if a dealer doesn't like it, they can advertise elsewhere.

I'm sure many dealers will begin posting their ads in the "By Owner" section instead of the "By Dealer" section, and I'm sure that will ultimately get a lot of dealer accounts blacklisted. At the very least it will cause irritable anti-dealership car shoppers to flag any ads that seem like dealer ads.

To play devil's advocate, the dealer ads on Craigslist have become quite numerous. Not just because so many dealers are listing cars on the site, but also because so many dealers violate the Terms of Use and overpost. At times I've seen hundreds of cars posted the same day for one dealer, and as a consumer it does get annoying...almost to the point of pop-up ad annoying that used to be the norm in the early days of the internet. Speaking as a consumer, we get it...your dealership has a lot of cars that you want us to see, but don't force them down our throats by posting 200 ads 3 times a day. Customers search the ads for a specific make/model or price range, so having your ad come up so many times does nothing more than push someone like me away from your dealership.

I get that (especially since the site is/was free) you want as much exposure as possible for your vehicles, but think like a consumer when you're marketing, not as a dealer. Personally I think Craigslist is shooting themselves in the foot with this move, but time will tell.

If you're looking for an alternative, be sure to check out Backpage.com which is a similar format, brings high traffic, and is free to use/advertise.

There are very few answers at this point, so in the meantime,you can check out the list of FAQ's at http://www.craigslist.org/about/ctd


cook93 said...

I'm glad they are making dealerships pay fees to sell on craigslist. when i get on craigslist i am trying to get away from a dealership. If I wanted to look at a dealership I would go to their website.

Anonymous said...

Hey Cook93, I am a Used Car Dealer and I donate to Craigslist every time I sell a vehicle from the site. I am sure many other dealers do the same. Craigslist should consider other options they are a formation of a foundation non-for-profit and receive donations and I am sure that certain people profit from this site. Craigslist.org is singling out a certain class of individuals which is an unlawful discrimination. If they are going to charge Car Dealers they must charge everyone. Moreover Cook93, purchasing a used car from a licensed dealer is your safest bet as you are protected by laws of your state. Conversely, Private Owner sales are "AS IS" BUYER BE AWARE. I would certainly like to thank the Craigslist Foundation for offering this service and encourage them to reconsider these changes. Thank you, Tony Licensed Car Dealer NY

Anonymous said...

cook93 Individuals do not have to explain if a car has had previous salvage history or if the mileage has been tampered with. Individuals can pull lots of tricks in a car sale with no recourse.

Jake said...

cook93 you make a valid point based on your own use, but keep in mind that Craigslist is supposed to cater to the masses. While you may want to avoid the dealerships for your own reasons (and that's fine), many others don't. This is why Craigslist has the "private party" and "by dealer" sections. Out of curiosity do you avoid sites like Autotrader.com, Cars.com, newspapers, etc. too when you're shopping for a car? Or do you just consider Craigslist to be the closest thing to a "dealer-free zone" that works for your needs?

Anonymous said...

The duplicate ads are usually because the dealer wants to keep their ads at the top of the list since craigslist has always been a "show latest post site". Hopefully that will change with their new search fields.

I think there is a big difference in posting to craigslist for free vs paying. Especially when you consider the amount of work required to get an ad posted. So do dealers what to pay someone to post the ad and the $5 for the ad? Time will tell but I suspect the answer is no. There are very few new ads by dealer in any markets. My guess is all they have done is drive all of those posts to backpage.com and eventually the search traffic too.

Anonymous said...

I think its very sad that craigslist has changed and started charging dealers , as a small dealership craigslist was a very importand part of out advertizment we didnt abuse the system and would put a few cars each day it bought us costeers , now to start paying for these advertizments it will be very costly i wish i could find another website similar to craigslist to advertize to help small dealers that are trying to make saled in these hard times if anyone can recomend such websited please post .

Anonymous said...

Eventually every dealer category will cost $5 an ad. I sell tickets and we were the first one to get hit on CL. I had stopped using CL when they separated it into private and dealer listing categories because they stopped showing search results from dealers when someone search from the homepage. My business died overnight even before they started charging. I don't even use CL anymore. I mainly just use ClassifiedsEarth.com and Backpage.com now. I know SEO which helps, my sales actually increased 300% this year since I left Craigslist. Best move I ever made was leaving CL because there is so much spam it really sucks. Real Estate for sale will be the next category to be charged because it is loaded with spam. Recently when searching for a home on CL 100 listings in a row were the same real estate agent spammer in Port Charlotte, FL. I told him I won't spend $400k on a waterfront home and have a CL spammer as my agent. I don't think they know how it makes them look when they spam the entire list in one shot. CL is a complete waste of time for me to sell or buy.

Peter Geelong said...

I think it's a good move really. It may well end up being better off financially for genuine dealers too. If it eliminates spam listings, reduces competition from other dealer listings and provides Craigslist with a revenue stream that may or may not be used in part to promote the site more and therefore increase your ad's exposure. If dealers find it isn't economical or they don't like it then they can always switch to an alternative like you listed.

Anonymous said...

I can see why Craigslist would want to charge car dealers to cut down on dealer spam as it's really annoying to consumers. However, as a dealer myself who always stuck to CL's terms and didn't post duplicate ads and overpost, the new fees seem unfair. The exposure of CL is good, but not for 5 dollars a pop. The fact it was free was it's main attraction.

I'm keeping my car postings mainly to TheRoadCode.com and BackPage.com for now. There are probably some other decent free sites out there that I'll try when I find them.

Craigslist used to be the only game in town, but with so many other sites and all the spam and creepy stuff on CL, it's just not worth paying for.