Naspers is taking aim at the online classifieds market, launching Kalahariads.net, a completely free classified advertising service the media group hopes will allow it eventually to dominate the field in SA.
The plan forms part of a broader strategy by Naspers to be a leader in online classified advertising in emerging markets worldwide. The launch puts Naspers on a collision course with Gumtree, the leader in the online advertising market in SA. Other players include Junk Mail and Vottle.
Kalahariads.net, which will be launched officially on Monday, is Naspers’s attempt to become the Craigslist of the SA online classified advertising market. Craigslist, launched in 1995 by Craig Newmark, has drained US newspapers of a significant amount of classified advertising.
Kalahariads.net marketing manager Bronwyn Johnson says Naspers has been piloting the project for the past year under the Dealfish brand. It was later decided to use the Kalahari brand as it’s well known as trusted, she says. Kalahari.net is a Naspers-owned e-retailer.
Millions of rand has been pumped into the backend systems to support the new venture and a team of staff has been employed to moderate advertisements to ensure spammers and people selling illegal goods don’t abuse the system.
From Monday, the website will be advertised extensively online (Web and mobile), on radio and on television.
Johnson says Naspers has no immediate plans to make any money from the website. Only once it has attracted a critical mass of users — she hopes the media group can quickly build the most popular online classifieds website in the country — will it begin considering how it will monetise the service.
A possible revenue stream is selling premium ads that will enjoy special positioning.
Karalhariads.net is working closely with newspapers in Naspers’s Media24 stable. Anyone placing an ad in Beeld, for example, will automatically get a placement on the website. The newspapers’ editors have been briefed and have bought into the idea, Johnson says.
Another way Naspers hopes to differentiate itself in the online classifieds market is by offering small businesses free Web pages where they can create a profile of their companies. Johnson says this could prove popular since many micro enterprises don’t have their own websites.
The site will be localised, allowing people to search for deals right down to the level of their own neighbourhoods. They’ll also be able to browse through and search classified ads from specific group newspapers.
Naspers is on its way to becoming a significant player in online classified advertising worldwide. It owns Argentina’s OLX, Brazil’s BuscaPé and Poland’s Allegro, all of which play to a greater or lesser degree in this space. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral