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Kijiji: Using Proprietary Data to Cement a Brand Leadership Position

Kijiji Canada

Corporate & Financial

Kijiji Hockey Family

They say it’s lonely at the top, but if you rest on your laurels, you won’t be lonely for long.  That was the self-aware attitude held by Kijiji, when they asked Proof to help entrench and grow their position as Canada’s largest online classifieds network. The ask came late in 2014, on the eve of the company’s 10th anniversary. When it came onto the scene in 2015, Kijiji was quickly embraced by Canadians looking for a place to buy and sell just about anything. Today, it ranks among Canada’s top-ten most-trafficked websites, and is used by nearly 50% of Canadian Internet users with 14 million unique visits every month (Comscore). In fact, on any given day, Kijiji hosts more than six and a half million live ads, with two new ads posted every second on more than 100 local sites for cities and towns across Canada.

So what more could they ask for?

As popular as they were, when you have this many people at your house party, occasionally stuff gets broken. With millions of transactions each year, the reality is, some don’t end happily. From deals gone wrong to people getting a bit too creative in what they try to sell, even isolated negative social and traditional media coverage was jeopardizing the brand, in the absence of other news. Similarly, while you’ll find every imaginable luxury good on Kijiji – from Aston Martin automobiles to Zegna suits – many people still considered Kijiji to be little more than an online flea market.

In other words, Kijiji needed some respect .


Looking for a Place to Happen

Together with Kijiji we delved into what made the Kijiji community so great. And our list was long — from the excitement of scoring a deal, to the local, person-to-person interactions that conclude all transactions, to the hilarious amateur copywriting found in some of ads. But where we landed, was data. As we pondered the sheer awesomeness of the millions and millions of transactions that occur on Kijiji, we began to wonder…

What are all these people exchanging?

How much are all these transactions worth?

What are the effects of this marketplace on the economy?

We searched high and low for answers, and were delighted to come up with…nothing. No one knew! But we were about to find out, and when we did, the second hand economy would become a dividend-paying territory Kijiji could own for many years to come.

Homework Assignment: Create a New Economic Bellwether

We started our journey by setting a goal of defining and measuring what we coined “the second-hand economy.”  This territory had an obvious, natural connection to Kijiji, and we felt that Kijiji’s decade of increasing success gave it permission to lead this exploration.

We knew we couldn’t tackle this alone, so we engaged economics and marketing researchers at the Observatoire de la Consommation Responsable (OCR) of the School of Management Sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) and the University of Toronto.

The OCR, led by its director Fabien Durif, was responsible for collecting primary data in partnership with MBA Recherche, a leading Montreal market research firm, gather information about Canadians’ attitudes and habits related to disposing of, and acquiring second-hand goods.

Next, Peter Spiro, a Fellow of the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation at the University of Toronto, was engaged to develop an economic model to generate the economic impact of these transactions in second-hand goods, including the overall benefit to the Canadian economy.

Once we saw the results, we knew we had a winner. Consider:

Roles & Goals

Suddenly, we had Canada’s first meaningful data on the size and impact of the second-hand economy. Data that would be of interest to the business community, government, academia, think tanks, the media and everyday consumers. The data also confirmed the leadership role Kijiji plays as the most-cited channel for buying and selling second-hand articles, justifying Kijiji’s ownership of this new research initiative.

Our plan of attack was a full court press to launch the Index through earned, owned and paid approaches:  media relations, influencer engagement, social and digital marketing. Now it was time to set some goals. Emboldened by the quality of our research results, we doubled down and committed to 200 stories totalling 35 million impressions and an average MRP score of 90%, as well as 45,000 visitors to the website and 400 downloads of the Index report.

We were all in.

We added the 10th anniversary angle for audiences that might otherwise not have been interested in an “economics” story, such as lifestyle media and influencers, as well as consumers who simply don’t read the business pages. And we added topspin with regionalized information and anecdotes highlighting unusual Kijiji advertisements that would appeal to regional audiences (e.g. like an Alberta ad seeking new goalie for the slumping Edmonton Oilers).

To extend the reach of the campaign long after the launch, a microsite was created that would house not only the Index research, but also engaging tools and content that could be refreshed throughout the year. For example, a new story or “chapter,” was created each month about real-life Canadians and their interactions with, and benefits from, the second-hand economy at different times of the year. These chapters were made engaging and appealing through photography and video as well as prose.


With so much data on our hands, it was time for some serious storytelling. Building off the basic survey results and academic modelling and analysis, we started by developing a set of core key messages that would underpin all content. We settled on points that would underscore economic outcomes (both on nationally and by household), job creation, and benefits to the environment. In collaboration with the researched, a bonafide economic report was written that was both academically sound and an easy, accessible read.

Next up was a landing page that housed the full report and the monthly chapters of new consumer content that would be populated throughout the year. We captured the attention of the media with a news release, audio news release and an engaging infographic to convey the key findings of the Index, and we pitched national and regional angles from coast to coast.

Op-eds by the researchers were offered and placed in popular publications such as The Huffington Post, and spokesperson hit the road for a media tour where they appeared on radio and TV talkshows in key markets.  We fired up the social media engine, and stoked it to a roaring state with a steady diet of blogs, tweets and posts, bolstered by contributions from a selection of popular online influencers.

A Standing O

We held our collective breath as we began pitching the story under embargo a week before launch day, wondering if the story would resonate. We needn’t have worried. Uptake was immediate, intense and enormously gratifying. Media coverage highlights included a feature-length, heavily branded segment on CBC News Network’s The Exchange with Amanda Lang and, in French, a highly-branded evening news segment on TVA, the most-watched Quebec TV network.

Kijiji spokespersons and our pair of French and English economists were interviewed close to 50 times in two weeks, and once the counting was complete, the story appeared in over 250 media outlets garnering close to 50 million earned impressions, with 100 percent of stories branded and positive.  The Index caught the attention of 18 key influencers and think-tanks who shared the story, and the microsite attracted over 30,000 unique visits in the first 30 days.

The report itself was downloaded close to 500 times, Kijiji’s parent company, eBay, featured the story prominently on its global intranet site.

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