A recent Pew Research study shows that the growth of online classifieds is changing the economy by giving individuals an arena in which to sell products on an unprecedented scale. From the San Jose Mercury News:
One in six American adults online has sold something through an Internet classified ad or auction site, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. On any given day, 2 percent of Internet users are selling online.
The data confirms what Internet watchers have long known — that the Internet has evolved into a global bazaar, where people buy and trade a wide array of collectibles, knickknacks, furniture, clothes and other used items.
Like a bazaar, ecommerce website owners have a permanent table to sell their goods while online classified sites give individuals a place at their table to sell an item or two (or many more in the case of some online entrepreneurs).
The increased trade happening online means that the opportunity for business owners to reach customers through online advertising has also increased. Reaching a customer on her path to buy a product is tough and inexact in the traditional economy. But online, I can divert her attention to my product on the search pages where she expresses interest and on content pages where she researches similar products. Online, I will probably know what she’s looking for before she buys, and I will know whether my ad prompted her to purchase.
Internet marketers have the means to reach customers all over the world who have demonstrated interest in their products. So even as trade among individuals increases, the opportunities for ecommerce businesses also increase because of targeted marketing.