Crowdsourced Classified Ads, Mass Media, and The OLX Story
The success of OLX India and the recent spate of ads the company has released in the Indian Media got me thinking about the whole free classified ads industry and where it is moving.
But before I talk about the industry, let’s have a look at the company. Started in Argentina in 2006, OLX is the world’s biggest platform for free online classified ads. Having made its presence felt in many countries worldwide OLX launched in India also and quickly became popular, thanks to the TV campaign started last year with the theme “Where Buyers Meet Sellers.” Major online players advertising on TV seems to be the flavor of the season.
The OLX ads are funny and bring home the point that anything sells on OLX (sub kuch bikta hai).The theme for the campaign is similar to what OLX has been doing in other countries, which is basically to present various everyday situations where someone ends up selling something on OLX after refusing initially (on emotional grounds), because the deal on OLX is too good to refuse.
What is interesting to note here is that the company has taken the route of mass media advertising for branding, which goes to show that even for online brands which have all the recourse to cutting edge online marketing practices and experts, mass media advertising is still a gateway to branding in a “major way” in a short span of time. In a country like India, TV is still the best medium to reach out to a major chunk of the population.
Coming back to the business of online classifieds, crowdsourcing is turning out to be a neat way to not only create content that can be monetized but also give value to users to post the content. Here both the users and platforms like OLX, are in a win-win situation. The users get to place their product ads for free and OLX gets the all important traffic to generate revenue from ads.
If we take the crowdsourcing model a step further, can traditional media houses (newspapers and magazines) get into fray and compensate for their dwindling classified revenues? It may happen eventually but it will take a while for this to happen. At least not till the print classifieds business is completely dead. Traditional media companies are not known to be visionary.
And even if it happens, top players like OLX would already have grabbed a major share of the market and it will all the more difficult to compete against them.