Online and offline classifieds – Disconnect in traditional media

Folks, I have been thinking about this for sometime: All of us know, classifieds is big business. Both online and offline. In the offline world traditional media like newspapers are the big gorillas – they basically built the classifieds industry. In the online world we of have craigslist, networks such as google adwords, vertical classifieds such as magicbricks, trulia etc. Though newspapers have gone online and online classifieds are proving to be successful businesses, I feel that there a distinct disconnect between the offline and online worlds. Why aren’t newspapers (or any other traditional media) integrating their offline classifieds with their websites? Online classifieds of all newspapers (thehindu, timesofindia, local papers like deccan chronicle, eenaadu) suck big time – they have minimal/obsolete content, search/usability features are non-existent. What could be the reason for this?

I feel newspapers have everything going for them 1. They have a captive customer set (who give them offline classifieds). So content (and revenues) is not an issue. Pricing could be different for online. 2. They have a decent online reader base. So integrating the online and offline worlds should be the most obvious thing to do. But this definitely is not happening. Even newspapers in US (NY Times etc) dont seem have integrated their online and offline worlds. Only google (who buys a lot of print ad slots) seems to be bridging this.

I would like to understand the reasons for this disconnect. Are they purely cultural – sticking to the existing cash cow and under estimating the online effect? Or is it more than that?
Are there any traditional media which have successfully embraced the online classifieds model – can anyone point some examples? It would be great if someone can throw some numbers – typical revenues made through offline classifieds. How much can online classifieds effect the overall revenues for the business etc.

I strongly feel there is a business opportunity here – enabling traditional media to broaden their pie. If you want to collaborate on this pls comment or directly contact me.


13 Responses to “Online and offline classifieds – Disconnect in traditional media”

  1. Pankaj Sinha says:

    Hi Anu
    Really interesting piece of write up about online classified website. Well most of the websites go live witout authentic content .
    But i do have a point to raise here .

    1. How can an online classified company can aggregate content before going live. They have to be live first and then start building a brand and simultaneously collecting content .
    2.Does aggregator theory work in india ? If yes where do we find these aggregators . If the content is available easily
    then everybody will go live with authentic content .

    Looking forward to hear from you.

    Best Regards
    Pankaj Sinha

  2. Rajiv says:

    Dear Sir,

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    We try to keep things simple and fun. We want people to enjoy their daily activities and we think is a way of doing that.

    Please let us know your comments to help us improve our business.

    Thanking You,

    Rajiv Unnikrishnan


  3. Anu Bajpai says:

    Hi Vamsi,
    1. The main reason for this is — in case of matrimony and jobs, the content is made readily available to the service provider by the end users (like those mentioned by you,, where the prospects give their detailed biodata, similarly in job sites the good quality content is readily provided by the employer and potential employee) where as in Real estate market it is not so. Many people still depend on a consultant.

    2. Not many players today are addressing this fact — content. We notice many portals which are half-cooked go live with AD banners on google, just to build branding and similarly many big portals in real estate are just in a hurry to build a traffic by offering free. These free posting have many errors and are highly inaccurate, which is again putting off the individual investors or person looking for buying/ selling/ rentals.

    3. We also noticed that in real-estate the access and awareness or net traffic to a real-estate portal is mainly from odd 20-30 cities in India (now this covers mainly individuals, agents, industries which are moving into smaller cities), where as from a country like US the traffic originates from 200-300 cities (mainly from NRIs and few corporates who want to set their base in India).

    4. Last but not the least, the content format in the matrimonial and job sites in very typical with quite a generic format and at most with 1-2 photographs. The person who advertises online or offline is well prepared to process resumes. Where as in real-estate it is not like this. There are different specifications for a piece of land and totally different for a corporate office or a shop. And people are still not ready with photographs of their properties. But in due course this may get further simplified.

    5. We assume that many offline classified that we see in newspaper generate inquiries. The fact is — it is not so. Many a times, these ADs are repeated. And gradually as an awareness is coming about that online real estate Ads are more effective in reaching out and more cost effective, specially in real-estate.

    Pardon me for a long reply. As I am very closely working on this initiative almost at ground level on daily basis, I wanted to share my insights and first-hand learnings with you. I am a first-time visitor to this forum and impressed with comments/ views shared by various visitors.
    – Anu

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