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kijiji.jpg EBay hasn’t really scored with any of its local initiatives during CEO Meg Whitman’s 10-year tenure (she is retiring). The local version of eBay Motors, for instance, never seems to get out of the gate.

But the stars seem better aligned for its Kijiji free classified effort, which is attracting almost 1.7 million users, according to U.S. data released today by Nielsen/NetRatings. Launched here last June, the service has been available in several countries since early 2005. It is now in 13 countries.

Nielsen ranks Kijiji as the No. 2 classified service in the U.S., although it is well behind Craigslist and its 20 million users (which eBay has a passive 25 percent interest in). In actuality, Kijiji probably has similar numbers as No. 3 Oodle — if you combine Oodle’s count with its partner sites, such as Lycos Classifieds. Outside of the U.S., Nielsen says Kijiji leads Craigslist in the nine other countries it monitors.

According to a Dec. 31 article in The New York Times by Bob Tedeschi, Kijiji’s U.S. launch was accomplished with “half a person.” But it is now poised to get more resources. In the article, GM Jacob Agraou says eBay is aiming Kijiji at young families, keeping porn and other unsavory categories far away. New York is its biggest market, with 18,000 ads per week posted. A major initiative for the site is the recent launch of Spanish language services in Miami and several Texas cities. Polish, French and Chinese language versions are apparently next.

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