What is Classified Advertising?

Cassie L. Damewood

Classified advertising is a marketing medium commonly found in newspapers and other periodicals such as magazines and newsletters. Some Web sites and search engines also have classified advertising sections offered to their users for free or at minimal costs. Neighborhood papers that are supported by display advertisers and provided free of charge to the local area frequently offer free classified advertising in specific categories.

Classified ads include employment opportunities.
Classified ads include employment opportunities.

Ads in this classification are normally comprised only of text that generally contains many abbreviations to save space and keep costs low. The moniker of classified refers to the placement of ads under specific classifications, such as auto sales, employment opportunities or rental properties. This section of the periodical is generally segregated from the rest of the publication for easy access to readers.

Business and real estate opportunities are often listed in classified ads.
Business and real estate opportunities are often listed in classified ads.

This type of advertising has maintained popularity over many years. This is generally attributed to the low cost of the ads as well as their availability of placement to the general public. For a nominal fee, customarily based on the number of words or characters in the ad, anyone can advertise goods for sale, rent or trade. Details of goods and services are sometimes included in the ad. Other classified ads offer little more than the name of the service or item along with a contact phone number or e-mail address.

Many people advertise their garage sales in the classified of the local newspaper.
Many people advertise their garage sales in the classified of the local newspaper.

Some publications have many diverse classified ad categories for consumers to utilize. These commonly include garage sale announcements, goods wanted for purchase, free merchandise people want to rid themselves of and pet owners looking for good homes for their house pets. Services such as carpet cleaning, home maintenance and automotive repair are typically marketed through classified advertising as well.

In some areas, certain periodicals carry large classified advertising sections devoted to matchmaking. People seeking romantic or platonic partners frequently search for mates through classified advertising. Personal services such as massages, aromatherapy or astrological readings are regularly found in these listings.

Online classified advertising usually makes the process of placing an ad easy and convenient for customers. There is normally a template provided that requires the person placing the ad to simply check off chosen categories and price ranges and provide contact information. A number of online classified ad service Web sites specialize in certain types of products, such as automobiles, household goods or specific consumer services.

Another form of online classified advertising that is gaining favor among a number of buyers and sellers is a platform called vertical marketing. In this type of Web site layout, paid advertisements for similar goods and services are interspersed with regular classified advertisements. This type of marketing attempts to divert the readers of classified ads to other Web pages that may offer a wider or more competitively priced selection of goods.

The online editions of most newspapers have a section for classified ads.
The online editions of most newspapers have a section for classified ads.

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Discussion Comments


@Laotionne - Figure out who you are trying to reach with your ads. Are your grandfather's items things that would appeal to older people? If this is the case then I suggest you go with classified advertisements in the newspapers. If you are trying to reach younger people then advertise online. You can get free advertising on some online websites. Not having to pay anything is definitely a bonus.

None of my friends in their 20s read a newspaper regularly. Mostly they simply read articles on the Internet news sites, so newspaper classified advertising won't reach them.


@Laotionne - I know plenty of people who still read the local newspaper, and I imagine most of them read the classified advertising. Older people are often religious in their routines, and the morning newspaper or the weekly newspaper are a part of a lot of routines.

Also, you can check the subscription rates and circulation rates of newspapers to get an idea of how many people are reading them, and whether or not placing an ad in them would be worth the cost.


I have a few items of my grandfather's that I want to sell. My grandmother and I recently went through some of the many items he had collected and stored over the years, and we think we can get money for some of them if we can find the right buyer. Is newspaper classified advertising worth the expense? I am always hearing how newspapers are dying, and how no one is reading newspapers anymore.

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