Let's count the ways to sell stuff online

Screenshot of the most popular videos currently on the Real People Real Stuff website

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Online hangouts like MySpace and Facebook have become so popular, e-commerce types are salivating at the chance to integrate with them. Today, Buy.com launches a new service on Facebook. It's called Garage Sale. It allows people to sell things from their profile pages on Facebook. Buy.com will handle the transaction and take a flat 5 percent commission. Buy.com is hoping Garage Sale will steal a little business away from eBay. There's another new website in the same ballpark. It's a cross between Craigslist and YouTube. So, people make their own video classified ads. Don't worry, we have examples. Here's Pat Loeb:


Matt Bennett: Hi I am Matt Bennett and I'm going to be your next IT manager: I am all over the Internet. . .

If there was an American idol for computer technicians, Matt Bennett's offbeat approach might win him some votes. But IT rival Gary Owens would give him a run for his money.

Gary Owens: Also, as a sideline, I write poetry. I'm in the poetry guild . . .

Bennett and Owens are two "stars" of the new website realpeoplerealstuff — all one word. Alan Jacobson is the founder....

Alan Jacobson: What we're seeing is the steady migration of classified advertising from print to online at the same time we're seeing online migrating to video so with Real People Real Stuff, we just connected the dots and created a site where classified advertising moves from print to online video

Jacobson calls the Web "the new TV." But sites are having a hard time figuring out how to make money off of video. Jacobson's site allows small sellers to post their homemade videos for free but certain advertisers, such as realtors and employers, have to pay.

Jacobson: Classified advertising franchise is a $20 billion a year business. If you can get even one percent of that that's $200 million.

Jacobson believes video works better as a sales tools than plain text and still pictures, but the site is clearly appealing to something besides business sense.

Owens: Let me read this poem, it's called "Lighthouse on the Shore": When I'm reaching out to . . .

It exploits vanity. Jacobson's site urges users to be the star of their own commercial.

Jacobson: It seems as if the public has an insatiable desire for personal celebrity. It's kind of like what Andy Warhol said a generation ago. He said, in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. Well the future is here now and everyone may not be famous yet, but it sure seems like most of them want to be.

The business model is similar to Craigslist, the groundbreaking online classified site. Craig Newmark founded it 8 years ago. He doesn't think video has much over his site's simpler approach.

Craig Newmark: Video is more difficult than it sounds, especially doing it well, sometimes one picture does speak a thousand words.

Even though it's all on the Internet, it sounds similar to the battle between old and new media. But Newmark says he welcomes the competition.

I'm Pat Loeb for Marketplace.

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