November 27, 2005

17% of internet users – about 25 million people — have sold something online

WASHINGTON – Millions of internet users are forsaking yard sales and the local dump for the prospect of selling their hand-me-downs and unwanted gear online. About 1 in 6 internet-using adults have sold something online. The move to online transactions not only has been a boon to people trying to clear out their attics, but it has enormous implications for one of the major revenue streams for newspapers: classified ads. Data from comScore Media Metrix show that the number of Americans using online classifieds has shot up 80% in the past year, led by the rapid growth of the sites organized by Craigslist.org. A national phone survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that those who sell things online come from all points on the demographic spectrum, but they are particularly likely to be male, in their 30s, relatively affluent and well-educated. They are also relatively intense users of the internet who have broadband connections and go online frequently. The survey data show that 17% of internet users have sold something online. • 30% of those with broadband internet access at home and work have sold something online • 26% of Gen-Xers (29-40) have sold something online; 17% of Gen Y (18-28) have done so, as have 13% of internet users over 40 • 20% of online men and 14% of online women have sold something online Two of the main places where internet users are selling online as individuals are online classified ad websites and online auction sites. The Pew Internet Project found that: • 32 million American adults have used online classified ads for selling or buying • 35 million American adults have ever participated in an online auction “This is the era of the anytime, anywhere yard sale,” said Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist at the Pew Internet & American Life Project. “The internet has radically expanded the customer base for unwanted household items just as it has opened up new markets for more traditional forms of commerce. The whole wired world is a flea market.” The top five classified sites recorded by comScore Media Metrix in October 2005 were: Top Five Classifieds Sites Craigslist.org 8,236,000 unique visitors Trader Publishing Company 7,468,000 unique visitors Cars.com 4,298,000 unique visitors Apartments.com 1,555,000 unique visitors Abracat Property 924,000 unique visitors “Consumers are attracted by the convenience and wide distribution offered by the Internet when buying and selling items online,” said Erin Hunter, senior vice president of comScore Networks Entertainment and Media Solutions. “Although pure online classifieds sites are popular, a large number of consumers still turn to the media brands they trust for selling and buying items online. In fact, two of the top five classifieds sites – cars.com and apartments.com – are operated by traditional newspaper organizations.” “Many of the top classifieds sites are still supplemented with content from newspapers,” added Ms. Hunter. “However, the traditional newspaper cannot offer the widespread distribution and convenience that has become synonymous with successful e-commerce. Consumers are now more comfortable with interaction established over the Web and this will only benefit classifieds sites.” The Pew Internet Project findings cited in this report come from a nationally representative telephone survey of 2,251 American adults (age 18 and older), including 1,577 internet users, between September 13-October 14, 2005. The margin of error on the internet user portion of the survey is plus or minus 3%. The comScore data cited in this report come from comScore Media Metrix, an internet audience measurement service that uses a massive cross-section of more than 1.5 million U.S. consumers who have given comScore explicit permission to confidentially capture their browsing and transaction behavior, including online and offline purchasing. To learn more about comScore’s methodology, please visit: here.