That's just what happened this week, as the leading social networking site outsourced its online classifieds listings to privately held Oodle, just as Wal-Mart did with Walmart.com earlier this year.
Sites that allow users to post free classifieds are everywhere. Craigslist leads the way, but don't discount the dot-com heavies making a push in this space, like Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Base and eBay's (Nasdaq: EBAY ) Kijiji. But Oodle powers the listings for more than 200 sites, including Lycos and Monster Worldwide's (Nasdaq: MNST ) Military.com. Visitors can either browse site-specific listings, or conduct a broader search across all of Oodle's partners.
MySpace offered a more cookie-cutter classifieds site before handing over the keys to Oodle. Now the interface is slicker, the features are richer, and the listings are tied to profile MySpace profile pages, so that potential buyers or traders can get to know the person they're dealing with a little better.
That last point is important. A free marketplace may not offer the policing and pay protections of a premium site like eBay, but isn't it just a matter of time before eBay begins to let sellers flex a little more personality in their listings?
Even as a pay site, eBay should never be beyond borrowing an idea from a free site, if it enhances the eBay experience. Now that social-networking websites are becoming hotbeds of commerce, eBay will need to ramp up the sizzle to compete.
Isn't it just a matter of time before "thanks for the add" becomes part of the eBay lifestyle?