Edgeio, a new service for online classified listings, launched this week, with what some have called a “radical” concept in Web listings publishing.
Edgeio constantly monitors RSS-enabled Web sites and pulls any item tagged “listing” and publishes the listing on the edgeio Web site and network. RSS, which stands for “Really Simple Syndication,” is an XML-based protocol that allows for the automatic distribution of Internet content. Many news-related sites, blogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS feed.
A Realtor, for instance, could go to edgeio.com and enter some of his or her for-sale home listings, or the Realtor could enable an RSS feed from his or her Web site or blog where listings appear and edgeio will automatically pick them up.
The Silicon Valley, Calif., company was co-founded by Keith Teare, who formerly worked with EasyNet and RealNames, and Michael Arrington, who works as a business and marketing consultant and writes the technology blog TechCrunch. Dave Winer, who’s credited with inventing RSS, sits on edgeio’s advisory board, Teare said.
As of today, Edgeio has more than 4,500 items listed from over 1,250 cities, according to stats listed on the site, which currently monitors more than 25 million Web sites, and has a global reach.
Teare, who serves as CEO, said that for people who are publishing listings online, edgeio takes the effort out having to enter the listing in several different places for exposure.
“There’s always been self publishing, but the efforts involved in republishing say in a newspaper or on the Web have always required extra effort,” Teare said. Edgeio enables self publishing to get distribution through a wider audience using tagging and RSS.
People searching for items for sale or services can search edgeio three different ways, Teare said. They can go to the site and enter keywords that will pull up relevant listings, or they can browse a list of categories and subcategories on edgeio’s front page. Teare said those categories are created according to what kinds of listings are publishing, rather than created by an editor.
The third way to search listings is to subscribe to an RSS feed and edgeio will distribute matched listings to the person’s desktop, cell phone or whatever method they prefer, he said.
A prospective buyer can directly contact the person who published the listing through edgeio only if the publisher is registered with edgeio, Teare said. If the listing is “anonymous,” meaning it’s been picked up by edgeio but the publisher has not registered, buyers cannot contact them – this is meant to discourage spam e-mail through edgeio’s system, he said.
Edgeio’s method of picking up tagged listings is similar to say a Google search, which crawls the Web for relevant matches to search terms. Teare said the key differences are in the speed of publication and the structure by which listings are categorized.
There is often a lag time between publishing something on the Web and the point at which Google indexes it for searching, he said, whereas edgeio picks up the listing as soon as it’s tagged and published on the Web. “There’s no delayed time for crawling and indexing listings,” he said.
Tagging also potentially makes it easier for searchers to find listings because the publisher can use what Teare called “clustered tagging.” Say a Realtor has a house for sale in San Francisco – he or she can add the listing to his blog and create several tags like “house,” “for sale,” “4 bedrooms,” “San Francisco,” “Golden Gate Park,” etc. Likewise, if the Realtor has a buyer looking for a house, he can set up a search in edgeio to monitor RSS feeds for these specific tags.
Greg Sterling, an analyst with the Kelsey Group, said it’s too soon to say whether edgeio will gain significant traction with everyday consumers posting things for sale on the Internet.
“What’s interesting and radical about this is not so much on the consumer side, but more on the advertising side,” Sterling said.
Edgeio’s model “hypothetically solves the problem of fragmentation,” Sterling said, pointing out that advertisers have so many places to expose listings online that they sometimes don’t know where to go.
“The thing that’s interesting to me is the idea that suddenly I don’t have to show up anywhere to post a listing,” he said. For instance, people can just add something for sale to their free blog and it will be more widely exposed.
However, Sterling said that many people already have well-established habits using services like eBay and craigslist to post listings online. “It’s a question of whether consumers will pick this up right away or whether it will take time…I do think that over the long term, the model they’re advocating may impact the market.”
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