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youtube.jpg When veteran newspaper design consultant Alan Jacobsen called last year to tout his new classified video site, Real People Real Stuff — “the marriage of Craigslist and YouTube” — I thought it was kind of fun but didn’t have very good business prospects.

Video classifieds can’t be efficiently searched on a local or category basis; video production has been time consuming; video uploading has not been intuitive; and the value of most personal goods — the fodder for free ads — haven’t been high enough to make the effort. Real estate and cars, yes. Easy chairs that cost $10, probably not.

But Jacobsen (and his business partner, classified consultant Janet DeGeorge) have pressed on. To me, its prospects are still iffy. But it now has deals with 10 initial newspapers, including The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, The Provo Herald and The Spokesman Review in Spokane, Washington. Three more papers are coming online soon. The revenue comes from flat fees, based in print circulation. In the future, Google ads or the equivalent might be added.

More recently, the duo have added a vertical spin-off, Video Job Shop, which provides video resumes and a widget for Facebook. DeGeorge says the Job Shop is getting more attention from them than Real People Real Stuff since recruitment is very tangible and has higher priorities among potential newspaper clients.

Other video classified projects are also heating up. Jay Schauer, who runs Ad2Ad, a classified system for community papers and verticals, let me know that he’s just added
video for his national client base of community and college papers and verticals. Customers are demanding it, he says.

Creating a permanent video — typically a verbal response to someone’s cellphone video — is little more than clicking three buttons, adds Schauer, who spent two minutes making a sample video for me because he felt like it (and we are friends). “Sometimes I feel like such an old fart,” he goes on. “The youngsters these days use YouTube the way I use sticky notes. It’s a technology they find very simple and direct. Since YouTube has worked out phone video uploads, and direct uploads from your PC’s Webcam, the gap between creating and sharing a video has practically disappeared.”

Schauer sees video as the next step on an evolutionary path for classifieds that has included uploading pictures and providing enhanced online photo galleries. “These features have added a lot of extra revenue for the newspapers. I honestly don’t know where this technology is going, but now that I have incorporated it, I’m starting to think it’s an obvious and necessary next step,” he says.

A fourth classified video application comes from The North Ogden Standard Examiner in Utah. It has opened a Consignment Store, where a Webcam pans large items for sale in a physical location. Smaller items may be scanned. The items also appear in the newspaper. The store takes a 25 percent commission, and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 till 2.

“Business has snowballed, with a 23 percent annual margin,” according to reporting from Newspaper Next‘s Stephen Gray. “It is a natural extension of classifieds advertising.”

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