Oodles: A New Classified Search Engine

    March 28, 2005

What do you get when former Excite.com executives, fresh from taking (very) early retirement, reunite to figure out a better way to sift through online classifieds…

You get Oodle.com, a new search engine for classifieds that beta launches today in three local markets; Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia. The service is complete free (for now) and will eventually roll out to more than a dozen sites, for other cities, by the end of 2005.

Single source for classifieds

We caught up with Craig Donato, CEO of Oodle, who told us, “Oodle was started 18 months ago and is the first service to focus on the needs of the buyer. Whether you are looking for a job, housecleaner, used car or snowboard — you want to see all the local listings, quickly find what you need, and jump on great deals when they pop up.”

Oodle – which is the coolest name with two “o”s to launch since the late nineties – enables consumers to easily see all of the classified listings available in a local area. The beta versions include most of the major sources for local listings: a region’s anchor newspaper, small suburban papers, Craigslist, eBay and national online sites like Monster.com and Cars.com. According to Donato, Oodle will “continue to role in more listings every day”.

Click To EnlargeThe clever search engine also offers traditional “drill-down” filters that allow searching by categories and uses its patent-pending ClassiFind technology to assess listing quality and detect SPAM or inappropriate listings. It also helps filter out annoying abbreviations commonly used in classifieds.

Classifieds in your inbox

Taking direction from the success of Google & Yahoo news alerts, Oodle also offers users the opportunity to be notified by email when a new listing matches their search criteria. Donato tells us that they expect to offer RSS notifications and cell phone alerts in the near future.

As we said, Oodle is completely free and while the company does not have written agreements with all of the classified publishers they crawl, they hope quickly to demonstrate their benefit to sites such as eBay and Craigslist. Oodle will make its money by displaying Google AdWords ads alongside search results.

Oodles of potential

Oodle certainly fills a void. Searching online classifieds can be a pain and I am looking forward to Oodle reaching the Raleigh/Durham area (hint, hint). There is a question of whether they can avoid any conflicts with the sites, whose classifieds they are republishing, but Oodle hopes to avoid any conflict by always directing the searcher back to the original classifieds page. Indeed, Oodle hopes to demonstrate such a value to classifieds publishers that they will be willing to up-sell their advertisers to enhanced listings on Oodle.

So can Oodle be successful? Donato thinks so. “By making it easy to get a single view of the entire market of local listings, Oodle will attract more buyers to online classifieds,” continued Donato. “This, in turn, benefits everyone in the category.”

Andy Beal is an internet marketing consultant and considered one of the world’s most respected and interactive search engine marketing experts. Andy has worked with many Fortune 1000 companies such as Motorola, CitiFinancial, Lowes, Alaska Air, DeWALT, NBC and Experian.

You can read his internet marketing blog at Marketing Pilgrim and reach him at andy.beal@gmail.com.