Magazine Offers Students Free Ad Space

Student-run classifieds publication features deals on textbooks, personals

Unwanted textbooks, posters, and even sheet music can flaunt themselves in the pages of the new weekly classifieds publication “H-Ads,” which allows Harvard students to place ads free of charge for items they wish to buy and sell.

The first issue of H-Ads, the brainchild of D. Zachary Tanjeloff ’08 and Benjamin N. Ungar ’08, was delivered to students’ rooms yesterday morning and boasted over 70 student advertisements as well as about two pages of commercial advertising.

Student ads placed on the website, www.h-ads.net, by 10 p.m. on Mondays will be published in the following Thursday’s issue.

In addition to advertising items, H-Ads allows students to publicize club meetings, parties, and job openings. The magazine also features sections for personal ads—though, as of yet, no one has taken advantage of this option.

Next week’s Valentine’s Day issue will offer special “Heartgram” messages to allow students to express their affection for others. The submit button on the page reads, “I am going to get so lucky this V-day.”

Tanjeloff was enthusiastic about the initial success of H-Ads, noting that the project was only approved by the University last week. The founders garnered initial exposure through thefacebook.com.

Tanjeloff said the magazine—which had been in the works for about three months—was a natural extension of his interest in business.

“When I got here there were no business classes on campus for freshmen, so I wanted to do something business-oriented, get some hands-on experience,” he said. He then roped Ungar in to help and they decided to release it during shopping week, counting on an increased demand for textbooks.

Julia E. Cassis ’06, who used the publication to advertise her used textbooks, praised the website’s design and the ease of the process.

However, she had reservations about the long-term success of H-Ads. “I think it’s a good idea,” she said, “but a lot of ideas just like it have come out over the past few years and not taken off, so I’m still skeptical.”

Samuel W. Lessin ’05 was a founder of one such project, CrimsonXchange.com, which was started in 2003.

He noted the difficulties he had in keeping students’ long-term attention focused on his site and said he fears H-Ads’ creators may face the same problem.

“It’s great, but how many pieces of mail do you get in your mailbox every day?” Lessin said. “I know my mailbox is chock-full of things that I just don’t read.”

Nevertheless, Tanjeloff is optimistic. “The fact that it’s in print is huge; it’s in people’s doors, in their faces,” he said.

Tanjeloff and Ungar obtained a small Undergraduate Council grant for the project, but are not relying on that money to sustain their efforts. They said the commercial ads in the first issue covered their costs completely, and Tanjeloff said that he hopes for even more interest from businesses in the future.

“I think as it gets more established, advertising will come more easily,” he said. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but we will begin to hire people soon and [the magazine] will get to be a bigger operation.”