The Daily is reporting that Facebook is testing a new classified ad service that could challenge Craigslist and Gumtree head-on.
The Daily cites two sources from within Facebook who independently told the site that the classified ads project is "on a fast track". Tentatively referred to as Marketplace -- the same name as a long-dead Facebook ads project -- it would allow users to post ads that would appear in the news feeds of others.
The scheme would, apparently, borrow in some ways from Facebook's Promoted Posts concepts, in the sense that users would have to stump up a small fee -- The Daily says less than £3 -- to post most ads. Then, they'd just pop up in the feeds of friends.
The joy of Craiglist, or even Gumtree, of course, is that it can be used for plenty of purposes: selling a car, renting out a room, or hiring a casual employee. The Daily suggests that Facebook's Marketplace would be no different, though it also speculates that there might be some differences between charges and the resulting posts, depending on the ads. From the Daily:
[P]osts for housing for individuals would be free and allow users to tag friends as a suggestion. Say you were looking for a roommate in the Seattle area who is a neat freak and enjoys sushi. The ad would be shown to friends in the Puget Sound area. Those friends, however, could then pass it along to other across the country even if they aren't friends with the original poster of the ad…
The jobs board could become the most active part of the new app with young professionals, allowing users to share career opportunities with their friends. Much like housing, the posts can be restricted geographically, but can also be restricted to certain criteria. For example, a job that has certain qualifications, like a Master's degree, could be shown to only those who have one — or at least whose profiles say they do.
Finally, there appears to be discussion within Facebook about a Projects section, much like Craigslist's Gigs, which would allow people to share information, ideas and possible future ventures. Maybe Facebook could spawn its own successor, right there?
There's no word on when -- or indeed, if -- Facebook plans to roll any of this out. But it could be just the monetisation solution that Facebook has been scrabbling for. [The Daily]