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What is a classified ad? We look at the definition of the term and the evolution of classified advertising through different types of media from print to digital over the last 20 years...

Classified ads

Visit for classified free ads in the UK


The Cambridge Dictionary describes a classified ad as:

A small advertisement that you put in a newspaper or a magazine, usually because you want to sell or buy something or to find or get a job


Classified ads are traditionally a small advert placed within local media to advertise an item or service as available to a local audience. The item may be for sale, for rent or wanted. Wanted ads are usually adverts for items wanted for sale or rent, but can also include personal ads (advertising a person as available for dating or seeking love) or job vacancies available, whereby the employer 'wants' candidates for the position.


Classified Ads - The history and modern methods of advertising online for private and commercial sellers.


The history of classified advertising

Classified advertising was originally offered as a method for printed publication readers to advertise items to like-minded audiences within newspapers and magazines.


Before the boom of the internet circa 2000 classified advertising was predominantly done via printed media where previously-higher readerships would seek items for sale (locally in local newspapers and nationally through national newspapers and magazines) within Classified Ads sections towards the back pages of the publication.


Small, usually rectangular shaped adverts would litter the pages giving a short title and brief description of the for sale, for rent or wanted item, accompanied by a telephone number where an interested reader could contact the advertiser.



The disadvantages of smaller printed advertising for consumers were that there was a limited description and a lack of imagery, meaning that any potential buyer would need to contact the seller and then visit the seller's location in order to guage a true understanding of the item's likeness. Modern classified advertising simplifies the buyer's decision making...


Modern Classified Ads

There's no denying that the traditional printed media advertising still exists and works very well as a selling platform for some - However modern advertising methods have simplified the creation of ads as well as adding the ability to provide more comprehensive information, descriptions and photographs. At the same time, costs associated with advertising in printed publications have been minified or removed entirely, opening up the gates to classified ads to everybody, without restriction.


With the boom of the internet and with broadband speeds increasing, classified adverts have found a grand stage not just in front of local or like-minded audiences but across the whole globe. Selling a car can now be done for less or no money, to a National audience and to an extend where buyers can make purchase decisions based entirely on the information provided on one single web-page.



Digital Classified Ads Platforms

There are thousands of digital platforms for creating for sale, for rent and wanted classified ads online which range from:

  • Social Media Sites
  • Local media
  • Local dedicated classified ads websites
  • National classified ads websites
  • International classified ads sites
  • Online magazines
  • Online forums and niche websites


Most of all-of-the websites within these categories will offer classified ads to their visitors in one form or another, allowing you the visitor to advertise relevant items for sale within it's classification. Some websites will charge, some will be free to advertise and others will offer free advertising with optional paid upgrades to get more from your advert or encourage a faster sale or higher selling price.



The modern trend

Classified ads are moving steadily and increasingly away from printed media and on to digital platforms where sellers can advertise their items with an array of information and to a wider audience. The digital platform offers both buyers and sellers a simplified advertising method which also allows for more information to be provided and communication between buyer and sell to be fast and unintrusive. Email, text messaging, phone calls, whatsapp, Facebook... The avenues for enquiries is vast and can be taylored to suit both the buyer and the seller.


Current trends in 2017 suggest that classified advertising will continue to increase and the marketplace online for one-off and commercial classified ads will see niche and broader websites offer more features to it's sellers and continued simplified ways of buyers finding exactly what they want, at the right price.



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