The Australian online classifieds market displayed overall growth of 10% in 2013, reaching $780 million. Real estate was the largest growth segment, recording 24% growth in 2013.
The overall market still grew slightly more compared to the 8% growth it recorded in 2012. However, there were wide disparities in the growth rates of individual segments. While expenditure on automotive classifieds increased by 6%, there was a significant drop in revenue in the employment segment of -4%.
Frost & Sullivan's latest report Australian Online Classifieds Market 2014 reports that although online classifieds expenditure will continue to grow, annual growth rates are predicted to continue to taper off as the market matures. A CAGR of 7.1% expenditure is expected between 2013 and 2017, when expenditure is estimated to reach $1,131. The real estate segment is forecast to display the highest average annual growth with a CAGR of 12%.
The real estate segment achieved very strong growth in 2013, as a result of strong residential housing markets in most states, and continued success by the major portals in converting customers to greater use of premium / depth products. Customers have generally accepted the additional benefits that premium products bring, and this trend is supported by the fact that advertising costs are generally born by the vendor and not the agent. Very low interest rates have been a key driver behind the rise in residential property prices. There has also been an increase in new housing construction and in turn more activity in the developer market, said Phil Harpur, Senior Research Manager, Australia & New Zealand ICT Practice. Harpur added that continued strength in the residential property sector, combined with further growth in listing depth products, will drive strong revenue growth over the next few years.
"The automotive market saw a year of sub-par growth of 6% during 2013, due to relatively slow growth from market leader Carsales and further consolidation amongst other publishers. Downward pressure on online classifieds ad prices and lower ad volume growth in a more mature market, along with softer economic conditions contributed to slower growth for all providers" stated Harpur.
A relatively weak job market in much of 2013 impacted on the volume of job adverts, affecting employment classifieds. Harpur explained,"Additionally, Fairfax Media's withdrawal from paid job classifieds in 2013 impacted revenue growth. However, the move to a free classifieds model by Fairfax Media could significantly increase the volume of job seekers accessing their site."
Harpur mentioned that with the aim of significantly expanding its number of job listings, Fairfax Media officially launched a joint partnership with global job aggregator Adzuna. Adzuna will promote itself through Fairfax's print and online audience. Adzuna's lower listing cost model gives it a competitive advantage for some job classifications.
Frost & Sullivan forecasts that expenditure on employment classifieds will show further negative growth during 2014, as a result of continuing weakness in the employment market. Growth in the employment segment will be constrained by the growing use of free classifieds sites, job aggregators with lower cost business models to traditional recruitment sites, and the use of social media to source candidates.
"From a small base, LinkedIn has grown strongly in Australia and has also established itself as a viable alternative to traditional recruitment websites, although its market is still mainly constrained to niche white collar job categories such as technology" elaborates Harpur.
The online free classifieds model has grown very strongly over the past few years. It has increasingly gained consumer acceptance as a viable alternative to the traditional paid classifieds market, not only in the general classifieds segment but also in the traditional classifieds segments of auto, real estate and recruitment. This is placing downward pressure on online classifieds expenditure.
As Australian consumers continue to use mobile devices to perform online activities, the mobile channel is increasingly important for online classifieds publishers. Searching for jobs, houses to rent or cars to buy is becoming a common activity on mobile devices. These activities are often undertaken on the move, which stimulates usage of mobile devices. All major online classifieds publishers now offer both m-sites and mobile app versions of their websites for smartphones. Within the next three to five years Frost & Sullivan predicts that the majority of online classifieds views will be on mobile devices.
Frost & Sullivan's Australian Online Classifieds Market April 2014 report forms part of the Frost & Sullivan Australian Digital Media program. All research services included in this subscription provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available. If you are interested in more information on this study, please send an email with your contact details to Donna Jeremiah, Corporate Communications, at djeremiah[.]frost.com.
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