Advertising is the technique of marketing products or services that a business enterprise uses to inform audiences, engage customers, and generate sales. Advertising is a 0.5 trillion dollar industry, and businesses use it as an indispensable way of increasing profits.
However, there are many advertising types, mediums, and channels, and each has something unique to offer. While social media advertising helps you target a specific segment, billboard advertising helps your brand get immense exposure. One such type of advertising is called “Classified Advertising.” Out of all the modern forms of advertising, it is the most traditional advertising medium still in use.
In this article, we will discuss all there is to know about classified advertising. Let’s start with its definition and then learn its types, advantages, and disadvantages.
What is Classified Advertising?
Classified advertisement is a type of advertisement or message that is placed in newspapers, periodicals, or magazines. Since these ads are grouped under various categories or classifications on a specific page, they are termed classified advertisements. These advertisements or messages are relatively cheaper than other forms of advertising and are available to the mass public.
The above-mentioned reasons make classified advertisements so popular. Usually, the person placing the ad is charged based on the number of words. Today, social media platforms and mobile devices are also using classified advertisements.
A Brief History of Classified Advertising
What’s interesting is that this form of advertising is not new. Ancient Egyptians used steel tablets to carve public notices back in 2000 BC. Classified advertising can be regarded as the earliest form of classified or outdoor advertising. In addition to steel tablets, Egyptians used papyrus, an ancient plant-based paper, to put out posters or sales messages.
The practice of classified advertisement was further refined in 1704 when the first newspaper ad was placed in the Boston News Letter. It was the first recorded use of classified advertising. The ad was for real estate buyers interested in purchasing an Estate on Oyster Bay, Long Island.
Types of Classified Advertising
“Classified advertisements” is one of the most popular mediums to post recruitment/job opportunities. Companies of various sizes and types use classified ads under the “situations vacant” category to reach mass audiences and attract suitable job candidates. The main reason is that applicants regularly refer to newspapers to find jobs. It is also a popular medium for government organizations to advertise job opportunities.
Property owners, landlords, and real estate brokers regularly use classified advertisements for selling, purchasing, and renting out property. It is one of the most common uses of this medium due to its reach and cost-effectiveness. Listing a property is also quick and easy in a classified as compared to other advertising mediums.
Under the section “Business” on a classified page, you’ll notice a variety of messages and advertisements like business proposals, sales promotions, and people seeking business partners. Classified advertising is a popular choice for many small to medium-sized businesses. It helps them cut costs on advertising and reach the target business audience that regularly uses newspapers and periodicals.
Many people use classified advertisements to seek a matrimonial match. It is quite popular in countries like India and Pakistan. According to a report, 65% of classified ads in a Times of India Sunday newspaper were matrimonials. The details usually include age, gender, education, picture, contact information, and the qualities one seeks in a potential partner.
Obituaries are yet another type of classified advertisement where advertisers inform the mass audience about the departed with a message. Apart from obituaries, classifieds are also used to publish condolence messages, remembrances, and funeral invitations.
Classified advertisements are a great way to make announcements, which can also be used as legal evidence. People make various announcements like Name or Address changes, lost and found announcements, marriage notices, legal notifications, announcements about buying and selling of real estate in a particular locality, and more. These announcements are intended for personal and government references.
Many educational institutions, like coaching centers and academies with small budgets, use classified advertising to promote their services. It helps them gain popularity because many middle-class students and their parents use newspapers as an information medium.
Messages of personal nature like birthday wishes, season’s greetings, messages of congratulations, etc. also make it to the classified advertisements. People use it in an individual capacity to make their loved ones feel good on a special day.
Advantages of Classified Advertising
Classified advertising is one of the most budget-friendly ways to advertise job openings, products, or businesses. It is far less expensive than other media spaces like billboards, television ads, radio ads, or social media ads.
Printing an advertisement in classifieds is cheap because, unlike other advertisements, you don’t have to hire the services of a creative firm. Moreover, the ad is primarily text-based with a single image, so you don’t need visual design services either. You submit the text you want to have printed, and you are charged on a per-word basis in most cases.
Classified advertisements allow businesses and people to target a particular locality to advertise. For example, by inquiring which newspaper covers which geographical areas, you can target an audience from that region. You can also target a particular location with online classifieds.
This helps businesses fine-tune their messages and help cut costs by preventing them from wasting resources in areas where their services or products are not required. For example, it doesn’t make sense to advertise a “guide to stock market investment” in an area where people generally belong to the lower-middle class and don’t earn enough to invest in the stock market.
Quick and Easy
Classified advertisements are one of the easiest and quickest advertisement mediums for people and businesses alike. The process is as simple as going to the publishing office, discussing the prices, submitting the draft, and waiting for the ad to appear in the next issue.
Similarly, websites that offer classified services also keep the process simple to attract more and more people who want to advertise.
Various ad formats like TV, social media, or print ads are often interruptive. The ads suddenly pop up when consumers are busy watching a video or a news show. This experience is often annoying and frustrating for consumers.
However, this is not the case with classified advertisements. There is a separate page for them in a paper, and consumers who are only interested in viewing those ads look at them at the time of their choosing. This makes classifieds a consumer-friendly way of relaying a message or advertising something.
Classified advertisements are a time-tested way of promoting employment and bringing employers and candidates together. Classifieds are quite cheap and reach the ideal work demographic. This allows companies and businesses to reach graduates from middle-class families with offers that promise middle-class salaries.
It is an affordable but efficient way to reach many candidates in a short time. Furthermore, many government organizations use classified advertisements to announce job openings.
Disadvantages of Classified Advertising
Monopoly and Competition
Even though classified advertising is a cheaper option, the monopoly of big firms sometimes ends up overinflating the price. Since this advertising method is so popular, big businesses compete with each other to place higher and higher bids and acquire advertising space.
The competition takes the price out of the range of small to mid-level businesses looking to promote their services or products. Competition can be healthy, but the monopoly takes competition to such a level that, in some cases, small businesses find it impossible to pay for classified advertising. This is especially true for prominent publications widely read around a country, for example, The New York Times.
Limited Sphere of Influence
Classified advertising’s sphere of influence is limited to the households that read newspapers. Even though online classifieds are becoming popular online, it is still essentially a paper-based medium.
This means that businesses and people are limited to consumers who buy paper regularly. Moreover, only a tiny portion of those buyers read the classifieds section. This limits the power of classified ads as they are not as “global” in terms of reach as social media or TV ads.
Unlike TV commercials or billboards, classifieds are not sold based on the time they are on air or on the board. Instead, they are a one-day affair. Once the day is over, the space is sold to someone else. This gives classified advertisements an extremely short lifespan.
Due to this shortcoming, many businesses spend a lot of money buying ad space daily to get enough people to see the advertisements. By simple rules of probability, the longer your ad stays on the paper, the more the chances of people seeing it.
Even though classifieds are generally inexpensive for one-day ads, they can cost a bit more if the goal is to increase engagement over a period of time.
Opportunity cost refers to the lost opportunity when you choose an alternative among many alternatives. In the case of classified advertising, there might be an opportunity cost in some instances. Classified advertising is not as specific as other mediums like social media ads. It is not in your hands to target a particular demographic based on gender, occupation, age bracket, etc. You have minimal control over who sees your ad, which means that sometimes, your ad reaches people who aren’t even interested in your business.
This results in wasted opportunity and resources that could have been better used if you chose a different advertising channel. However, since the costs are low, many enterprises are willing to add classifieds into their advertising strategy in combination with other advertising mediums. Doing so balances the wastage while also capitalizing on the good things classified advertising has to offer.
Classified advertising has some distinct benefits to offer that other mediums don’t. However, it is best to use a combination of various advertising mediums to yield the best results. What’s unique about classified advertising is that it is perhaps the easiest and cheapest method to advertise. Everyone, from a business enterprise to an unlettered individual, can use it for various applications.
Some might argue that classified ads are not relevant in the age of digital marketing, but their consistent use today indicates that they’re here to stay for some time. Moreover, the fact that some websites offer classified advertisements as a standalone service shows how relevant they are in 2022.