Craigslist's Dirty Little Secret

It’s no wonder that Craigslist is champion of the online classifieds revolution; Compete reports just under 17 million people visiting per month. The site boasts quick accessibility, a straight-forward interface, and a posting registry ranging from video games and community events to furniture and real estate. But as it turns out, many visitors to craigslist.org are looking for something more risqué than that lamp with the red velvet fringe.

Analysis of eight major American cities shows erotic services consistently garners the highest number of individual visitors for February — almost always twice as many as the next ranking category, averaging 265,000 people per city. Equally racy lists that consistently score high visitor volume are the section for casual encounters as well as personals for women seeking men. The most commonly frequented venue outside of this virtual red-light district? Cars for sale.

But that’s not the entire story. A deeper look into the metrics reveals a real power group behind Craigslist’s impressive numbers: men seeking men. Even though they only enjoy Top 5 status in two cities by visitor volume, each month these Craigslist constituents view over 50% more pages and 20 more minutes on average searching these posts than any others — from apartment rentals to items for baby.

Of course, one cannot mention the most popular without a nod to the least. Local news, business supplies for sale, real estate and web design are probably better off advertising somewhere else since they contribute less than a whisper to the overall site traffic.

Avoiding the social issues and political debates that fall beyond this brief glimpse behind the Craigslist curtain, perhaps it isn’t shocking that the search for romance is extremely popular in the online space. Offering anonymity, privacy, and little room for embarrassment, Craigslist is an ideal marketplace for those looking for those willing.