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Type of site
Gumtree.com is an online classifieds and community website. Classified ads are either free or paid for depending on the product category and the geographical market. It is now the UK's largest website for local community classifieds and is one of the top 30 websites in the UK, receiving 14.8 million monthly unique visitors according to a traffic audit done in November 2010.
Gumtree was founded in March 2000 by Michael Pennington and Simon Crookall as a local London classified ads and community site, designed to connect Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans who were either planning to move, or had just arrived in the city, and needed help getting started with accommodation, employment and meeting new people. In May 2005, Gumtree was acquired by eBay’s classifieds group, for an undisclosed sum. At the time of the acquisition, Gumtree already was available in multiple cities in a number of countries including the United Kingdom, Poland, France, Canada, Australia (Gumtree Australia), New Zealand, South Africa and Hong Kong. Gumtree has the #1 classifieds site in the UK, Australia, South Africa, and Singapore.
International expansion beyond the UK include:
- September 2004: Gumtree launches a site in Warsaw, Poland
- May 2005: Gumtree launches a site in Berlin, Germany
- June 2005: Gumtree expands into Italy, with sites in Rome and Milan, increasing its coverage across 31 cities
- August 2007: Gumtree expands to the United States, targeting expat communities in New York, Boston and Chicago. The company intends to pitch its service at the 2 million British, Australian and Polish expatriates in the United States.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (November 2014)|
Although Gumtree's largest category of classifieds adverts is still goods for sale, with up to 2 million ads being posted every month, the site is also home to around 200,000 motors listings across the UK at any one time, and is also the second largest UK listings site for jobs and the third largest for property.
Gumtree has an extensive social media presence on Twitter and Facebook, with 200,000 and 15,000 followers, respectively. Gumtree uses social media to communicate news and information about the brand as well as launch competitions and promotions.
Although predominantly a free listings website, Gumtree allows its users to promote their adverts by "featuring" them on the site. Different types of featured advert can be bought for different prices. Users can place their advert at the top of the search page as a featured or urgent advert or on the homepage as a spotlight advert. They are also able to ‘bump up’ their adverts in the listings, boosting them in the site’s search rankings.
In more recent years, Gumtree has extended its service to business customers as well as the general public. The site began selling classified advertising packages to companies looking to post multiple job vacancies and properties with this contributing to the company’s growth of listings and revenue. In 2013 Gumtree extended bulk classifieds listings accounts to car dealers. In 2010, Gumtree launched its Gumtree Media website to publicise its services to potential business clients. The site showcases paid classified listings options as well as display advertising on the Gumtree site. Gumtree allows advertisers to post display advertising in the form of banners, rich media and homepage takeovers.
The Guardian reported that flat-hunters fall victim to a costly rent deposit scam using Gumtree. A London landlord was taking advantage of prospective tenants by taking deposits and then charging a large amount to check references.
In April 2008, The Journal reported that "Gumtree scams continue to target international students", where students continued to be targeted by fraudsters offering to rent nonexistent flats by using this site.
On 2 October 2008, a BBC News Investigation claimed, "Prospective tenants are being conned out of thousands of pounds in an elaborate Internet scam using Gumtree".
In 2008, Gumtree was featured on BBC Watchdog for being a medium of money transfer scam. The flat hunters are the victim of this scam. Gumtree claims that it is an "industry-wide problem that affects a small number of their users".
On 9 November 2009, BBC News warned over bogus landlord scam on Gumtree.
The UK's National Fraud Authority's Actionfraud issued a warning on 30 July 2010: "Scam targets potential tenants on Gumtree. A number of would-be tenants have lost money after replying to a new wave of bogus adverts for rental accommodation on the website, Gumtree".
In popular culture
In June 2013 an advert was posted on Gumtree offering a rent-free accommodation to a lodger that would be prepared to dress and act like a walrus. The advert was shared around various sites such as BuzzFeed and Mashable and caught the eye of Hollywood director Kevin Smith, who used the ad as his inspiration for his 2014 movie, Tusk, a story of an evil scientist who plans to permanently sew a human into a walrus suit.
- "Gumtree.com's 2010 Traffic audit by abc.org.uk", NMA.co.uk, February 10, 2005.
- "Gumtree plans pan-European roll-out of classified ad forum", NMA.co.uk, February 10, 2005.
- Julian Mattocks "Gumtree.com to expand into three new cities", NewFox.com.
- Jemima Kiss "Gumtree comes to America", Guardian.co.uk, August 14, 2007.
- "Flat-hunters fall victim to costly rent deposit scam", Guardian.co.uk
- "Gumtree scams continue to target international students", Journal-Online.co.uk
- Morris, Nigel. "Internet fraudsters in rent scam". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
- BBC Watchdog "Flat-hunter's transfer trap", BBC.co.uk
- BBC News "Warning over bogus landlord scam", BBC.co.uk
- Actionfraud "Warning – Scam targets potential tenants on Gumtree", Actionfraud.org.uk
- Child, Ben (2 October 2013). "Kevin Smith's next horror film is based on ... a Gumtree ad". The Guardian.