Responses to Entry in Multi-Sided Markets: The Impact of Craigslist on Local Newspapers

With Feng Zhu

How do firms respond to entry in multi-sided markets? We address this question by studying the impact of Craigslist, a website providing classified-advertising services, on local U.S. newspapers. We exploit temporal and geographical variation in Craigslist’s entry to show that newspapers with greater reliance on classified-ad revenue experience a larger drop in classified-ad rates after Craigslist’s entry. The impact of Craigslist’s entry on the classified-ad side appears to propagate to other sides of the newspapers’ market. On the subscriber side, these newspapers experience an increase in subscription prices, a decrease in circulation, and an increase in differentiation from each other. On the display-ad side, affected newspapers experience a decrease in display-ad rates. We also find evidence that affected newspapers are less likely to make their content available online. Finally, we estimate that Craigslist’s entry leads to $5.0 billion (year 2000 dollars) in savings to classified-ad buyers during 2000–2007.