The “Freemium” model is alive and well in today’s economy and AuctionZip.com (AuctionZip) was a perfect example.
Nearly 30,000 auctioneers are able to list their auctions on the site, thus driving millions of people to the site, allowing AuctionZip to sell upgraded features such as display ads and the like … to make money.
That is, until September 21, 2015. This letter to member auctioneers was emailed on September 15, 2015:
As you know, AuctionZip is the top online destination for bidders who are searching for auctions, and boasts 2 million unique visitors and the number one rank in Google for auction searches. As the leader in the auction industry, we want to ensure that we deliver the best service for our auctioneers and users, as we plan additional enhancements to the AuctionZip experience.
To that end, I am writing today to let you know that, after significant consideration and analysis, we are introducing a fee of $10 per listing on AuctionZip, which will begin the week of September 21, 2015.
We are making this update for a few reasons. The addition of a nominal listing fee will help eliminate duplicate listings and will result in higher-quality listings overall. It will allow us to begin to reduce the level of advertising on some pages, and streamline the site, helping your listings to be more prominently featured and more easily found.
It will aid us in offering increased regional marketing products, including geography-specific targeting and opportunities to promote your sales within your local community, which we know many of you have been asking for. In fact, we are in the process of launching a new AuctionZip Regional Exclusive Email to help promote your auctions to clients who live nearby. Benefits include:
Targeting – reach the people who can attend your auctions in person.
Branding – send us your logo, a picture & auction details, and we do the rest.
Timeliness – you choose the date that is best to promote your auction.
The listing fee will also be used to make technology improvements, both to listings and to the live online bidding portion of AuctionZip. Before the end of the year, we plan to launch payment processing on the live bidding platform – through which buyers will be able to pay for items won at auction directly through AuctionZip – and also have additional updates and improvements in the works.
I value your partnership, and thank you for your loyalty to AuctionZip over the years. I am confident you will continue to see a significant return on investment with AuctionZip as we work hard to drive increased traffic to the site and more bidders to your auctions.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me personally, or contact our Customer Care team by calling 617-746-9800.
Chief Executive Officer
This $10 fee per listing might alone generate as much as $3,000,000 in additional annual income for AuctionZip. And, if this additional income allows AuctionZip to fix problems with their site and enhance it further, this may be a very good change for the auction industry.
However, the auctioneer community which has used AuctionZip for years free of charge is not happy. Some are moving away from AuctionZip to other calendars, and others say they will be looking for possible alternatives.
Still others are saying they will continue to monitor results (hits/views) from AuctionZip and gauge their marketing accordingly, and many are saying nothing — maybe indicating they feel the $10 fee is immaterial.
Those especially disappointed with this monthly fee cite basically one or more of three reasons:
- AuctionZip promised to never charge a fee.
- Auctioneers submitting their auctions was what built AuctionZip and now that company is charging those same auctioneers to use their auctioneer-built database.
- While AuctionZip is promising upgrades and improvements, they don’t have a good reputation for such.
The letter from AuctionZip is indeed carefully worded. The $10 per listing will begin September 21. The enhancements and improvements are couched with words like, “plan additional enhancements,” “help eliminate,” “begin to reduce,” “in the process,” “plan to launch,” and “in the works.” Essentially, nothing really certain except the $10.
Auctioneers have been taught a valuable lesson once again — by providing large corporations the golden eggs (the data,) these well-fed corporations now have the gold and we auctioneers are subservient to them. Nevertheless, will the auctioneers who were using the free AuctionZip listing feature begin paying the $10 per listing? I suspect so.
Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.