Nextdoor is an online communities platform that essentially combines classic message boards with Craigslist. The startup spent its first five-and-a-half years building a sizable audience of social-media patrons who are more interested in what’s going on down the street than what friends are up to in other time zones. With the possibility of getting to 100 million users by the end of the decade, it’s now rolling out advertising for the first time, and its own revenue forecast is eye-opening.
“We think it will be $1 billion by 2020,” said Nirav Tolia, CEO of Nextdoor. “Look at the Yellow Pages; it’s still a $40 billion business in the U.S. … Over the last nine to 12 months, we’ve been getting more than 1,000 incoming advertising requests per week.”
On Thursday, Nextdoor will announce in-stream native units that look not too unlike other social ads at first glance. At the same time, Tolia and his team contend that they offer marketers a few things other social networks do not—chiefly, home-address data, which is a requirement to joining the site—that can be used to target ads. They have hyperlocal ambitions to attract mom-and-pop shops (like hardware stores, dentists, doctors, lawyers), various kinds of franchisee-based brands (fast food, insurance providers, tax preparers, financial, et cetera) and big-box retailers.
“These are in-feed ads, the same way you’d find ads on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter,” said Tolia. “But they are unique in that you can target by DMA [designated marketing area], by zip code, by neighborhood, by physical address. None of those other platforms can target by physical address.”
It’s true that while Facebook, Instagram and Twitter understand a ton about their audience, they don’t necessarily know if a user actually lives down the street from, say, a specific insurance agent. And therein lies Nextdoor, hoping to incorporate retail addresses and, in the case of insurers and banks, photos of branch managers to bring a neighborhood feel to ads.