Can Facebook Marketplace Disrupt Craigslist?

The Craigslist decision not to enter the app space may be contributing to Facebook Marketplace’s growth as the feature now appears as a permanent icon along the bottom of the Facebook app.

  • Craigslist is the de facto monopoly for online classifieds in the US, but that may be set to change.
  • The Marketplace is experiencing explosive growth as starts to tap into its massive user base and drive them to this relatively new feature.
  • As the use of the Facebook Marketplace collects around specific categories the impact may be felt not only by Craigslist but also other dedicated marketplaces for Housing and Car Sales.
Craigslist is the de facto monopoly for online classifieds in the US, but that may be set to change.
Craigslist is the de facto monopoly for online classifieds in the US, but that may be set to change. (Photo: Agency)

In the world of online classifieds in the US there is really only one player. Craig Newmark distributed his first email list detailing local events in 1995. One year later he launched craigslist.org on the web. In the past 12 months, Craigslist accounted for 90% of all traffic to dedicated sites for classified ads with an average of 637 million visits per month.

Notably, there is no Craigslist app available, but even if you aggregate the volume of daily active users of all classified Android apps in the US it still only comes to 2.4 million, less than half the average number of daily visits to craigslist.org on desktop alone.

The Facebook Marketplace is experiencing explosive growth as Facebook starts to tap into its massive user base and drive them to this relatively new feature. (Photo: SimilarWeb)
The Facebook Marketplace is experiencing explosive growth as Facebook starts to tap into its massive user base and drive them to this relatively new feature. (Photo: SimilarWeb)

Can Facebook Marketplace Disrupt The Market?

Relaunched in March 2016, Facebook Marketplace has been positioned as a Craigslist killer, with a cleaner UX and none of the anonymity issues that Craigslist has. While visits to the Facebook Marketplace (identifiable by the folder facebook.com/marketplace) are a mere fraction of total monthly visits to facebook.com each month, they are up over 500% in the past year. In the same period, traffic to craigslist.org has been dropping. In July 2017 the volume of traffic to craigslist.org was over 43X larger than to the Facebook Marketplace. In June 2018 traffic to craigslist.org was only was 5X greater than to the Facebook Marketplace.

While visits to the Facebook Marketplace are a mere fraction of total monthly visits to facebook.com each month, they are up over 500% in the past year. (Photo: SimilarWeb)
While visits to the Facebook Marketplace are a mere fraction of total monthly visits to facebook.com each month, they are up over 500% in the past year. (Photo: SimilarWeb)

Which Categories are Driving Growth for Facebook?

The Home & Garden category (facebook.com/marketplace/home) attracts the highest proportion of visits within the marketplace at 24%. The Vehicles category (facebook.com/marketplace/vehicles_bicycles) gets the second largest amount of traffic with the Housing category (facebook.com/marketplace/property) in third place.

These same categories–Home & Garden, Vehicles and Housing–are the fastest growing categories for the Facebook Marketplace, increasing their lead over the other categories on Facebook. This is a real indication of the way that Facebook’s users are using the Facebook Marketplace and a great indication of the categories that are most likely to expand further and take attention away from Craiglist and other dedicated marketplaces.

Conclusion

With a massive built-in user base that can be encouraged to try out the Facebook Marketplace, Facebook is positioned strongly to disrupt the Craigslist monopoly for online classifieds. The Craigslist decision not to enter the app space may be contributing to Facebook Marketplace’s growth as the feature now appears as a permanent icon along the bottom of the Facebook app.

Other dedicated online marketplaces must also be following the growth of the Facebook Marketplace. As Facebook users gravitate to the Housing category and the Vehicles category sites like zillow.com and cars.com will be paying close attention.

Eyal Steiner is Data Scientist at SimilarWeb. The article first appeared on SimilarWeb.

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