eBay to retire the Kijiji brand?

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ebayclassifiedsWhile Gumtree is the top classifieds site in the UK it appears that Kijiji is far from achieving the same penetration in the US. eBay are now trialling a name change to “eBay Classifieds” in two US cities – San Antonio TX and Pittsburgh PA.

The change will take place early in March, and eBay have written to users of Kijiji saying “We thought it made a lot of sense to start using the eBay brand name“.

Craigslist (who eBay have a stake in and are suing and being sued by) is of course the undisputed king of US online classifieds.

Neither Kijiji (Swahili for village) nor Gumtree is particularly descriptive, and Kijiji isn’t easy to spell (trust me, I had to look it up to check) so the name change is interesting but not desperately surprising. The decision to draw on the eBay brand is however a change worth noting.

Up until now although in the UK Gumtree reside in the UK eBay office the two businesses don’t mix, in fact classifieds have always been viewed as the black sheep of the eBay family. That’s not surprising, users selling products with no listing fees, no final value fees and very few irrelevant 3rd party adverts must be an anathema to eBay management.

If the name change works it’ll doubtless be rolled out across all Kijiji sites, the only remaining question is will the Gumtree name disappear from the UK?

20 Responses

  1. This is where the country-autonomous management hurts: branding. eBay should bring over the Gumtree brand to the States. eBay will never work as a brand for classifieds – it’s already hard enough for fixed price.

  2. Right, but they didn’t force it down our throats the way they decided to with Kijiji. Either way, I wish – for their sake – that they’d just pick one.

  3. Kijiji ?? what kind of name is that for anything?

    sounds like a very bad 80’s pop group!

  4. Does this mean they are going to start charging us $9.95 per ad, give no way to purchase the item through the listing, and then email our users telling them not to buy outside of eBay?

    The good news is when I post an item I can actually tell them where to look for it. I have no idea how to pronounce Kijiji.

  5. Jose Mallabo from eBay Classifieds Group and eBay Inc. corporate communications here. The U.S. tests are just that and are part of our ongoing efforts to compete in the U.S. market. (See more at http://www.ebayinkblog.com).

    As you mentioned, we tested Gumtree for ex-patriot communities last year. It didn’t get much traction so we backed off it. The beauty of being online ๐Ÿ™‚

    And we also launched Spanish language sites in U.S. Kijiji cities where it is a dominant language (e.g., in Texas and Florida). To compete and win you have to be willing to disrupt your own business in an effort to get the customer experience right at the grass roots level…

    …Which is why we operate Kijiji, Marktplaats, Gumtree, LoQUo, Mobile.de, Den Bla Avis and Bilbasen with local management, in local language and with category and monetization strategies specific to those countries, counties and cities. Not, with a cookie cutter strategy.

    These U.S. tests are not a retirement of any name whatsoever. And, they do not impact Gumtree. They are tests of the ebayclassifieds.com name in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and San Antonio, Texas.

    eBay Classifieds Group is the undisputed leader of the online classifieds market globally with more than 80 million unique visitors on a monthly basis and nearly 19 million live ads up at any moment in time. In terms of revenue, ECG is 3 to 4 times larger than the next closest competitor. It is the fastest growing business unit within eBay Inc. and very much a part of our long-term growth strategy as evidenced by the addition of Den Bla Avis and Bilbasen in Q3 of 2008.

    You can expect that we will continue to evolve this business unit and our properties over time.

    Jose Mallabo

  6. Hi Jose, thanks for the clarification. Good to know Gumtree isn’t going to change in the UK at the moment as the one and only complaint I ever hear about them is that there isn’t a site for every town/city in the UK.

    Apart from not being big enough yet outside London people almost without exception love Gumtree ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I think it’s really great to see Jose from eBay interacting on this thread. It’s testament to Tamebay’s importance in the eBay ecosystem and hopefully a sign of a renewed commitment to openness from eBay. ;o)

  8. @Dan – I oversee corporate PR for eBay Inc. and communications for the Classifieds Group. I sit in San Jose but also work closely with the regional classifieds PR teams in the UK and Europe — so I’m happy to chime in where appropriate. Keeps me waking up early ๐Ÿ™‚

    But, Gumtree will continue to manage its local PR/marketing in the UK because as Chris intimated it’s one of the strongest brands we have.

    Best, Jose

  9. Completely agreed. Pretty solid playbook for classifieds PR/marketing sitting in Germany at Mobile.de and in the Netherlands with Marktplaats.


  10. Jose,

    I take the point. I personally think that motors is a bit different from other general classifieds. Mobile was a very effective business and remained so after acquisition. That said, many key personnel made the leap from Hamburg to Berlin.

    Marktplatz was bought, as I recall, because it effectively trounced eBay in NL. It’s a great business with enviable cut-through in Holland.

    Gumtree, however, offers the english-speaking playbook for the US. With grassroots community building and clever execution it remains strong. My mum uses Gumtree but not eBay.

    I assume the eBay Classifieds team are getting a good dose of ‘best practice’ from veterans and experts in Germany, UK and Holland?


  11. Yes. They provide a lot of great learnings from which to build on. The eBay Classifieds Group as it is today really is a pretty “young” group as it started with the launch of Kijiji in ’05. You’ll see a lot more in the way of best practice / synergy work this year across the group now that it’s a bit further along. From a global PR perspective, that’s something I’m tasked with. While those companies obviously have great grass roots / community building lessons to teach we actually entered the U.S. on the strength and success of Kijiji in Canada — demographically and geographically the closest to the U.S. market. But as you saw with these upcoming tests in Pittsburgh and San Antonio, we’re not afraid to keep tweaking it to get it right for the local market, for the customer…and drive growth.

    I wasn’t around for the Marktplaats acquisition so I can’t really comment on that deal. (And, the other half of my job is to look after M&A communications globally.) But having been to the Netherlands many times and working closing with that team…there’s no question about how strong that business is there. It is the number 2 web site in the country behind Google.

  12. Hi Jose Mallabo,

    Great to see you out posting and twittering! Let me ask you a question – are you still making it a practice to haunt industry blogs and finance boards with anonymous IDs pumping eBay and dissing dissenters? Gosh, there are some great examples of your work out there!


  13. Kijiji always reminds me of that bit in ‘Witches Abroad’ –

    Anywey one good thing is the drink here is v. cheap theres this one called a Bananana dakry which is basicly Rum with a banananana in it.

    [Footnote: Nanny Ogg knew how to start spelling “banana,” but didn’t know how you stopped.]

  14. I think Kijiji is a pretty crappy name but “eBay Classifieds” is not much better. (Then again, craigslist is a pretty silly name but it sure took off; then again, those were early days.) I list a rental property on Kijiji and get a fair amount of response (more than craigslist, but then again I often forget that every 7 days I have to repost on craislist whereas I do not have to on Kijiji) so it’s clear to me that despite the awkward name a lot of people know about and use Kijiji.

    I would think that an eBay branding could hurt Kijiji since users could have a preconceived notion that it’s not free and that they’ll be nickle-and-dimed for everything like with eBay (unless that’s ultimately how things will end up if eBay is not able to monetize the classifies sufficiently with ads and maybe something not-to-offensive like premium placement fees). Also, I think it would be a real leap for users to think of eBay classifies as offering housing and services all the non-product kind of stuff that they would not associate with eBay.

    Surely eBay has the talent to come up with a great new brand and the money and cross-marketing to make people aware of it. “eBay Classifieds” sounds like a pretty lame cop-out that will result in the opposite of what eBay is trying to accomplish with a rebrand.

    A branding consultant wold probably say it should be two syllables, preferably with an “o” sound (Yahoo, Google, Hotmail, Mobil, Exxon, Jonas) or not (eBay, Gumtree) and not have “list” in it to not be seen as the copycat that it is.

    Why not hold a competition for great names among both Kijiji and eBay users and get them vote for their favorites? The publicity for that exercise alone would raise awareness of a rebrand with Kijiji users and of the classified service with eBay users and create an emotional investment with both to see what results. Kijiji could during that time be rebranded with a provocative question mark that would link to contest rules and such.



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