In February 2009 the market began to feel the impact of the economic downturn and according to consulting company, Frost & Sullivan, the continued slowdown is likely to result in a much smaller growth rate of 18 percent for both 2009 and 2010.
The forecasts were released in the Australia Online Classifieds Advertising Market 2008-2012, the latest research in Frost & Sullivan's annual examination into the state of the local online advertising industry.
The fastest growing online classifieds sector in 2008 was real estate which experienced 38 percent growth. This was driven by increased yields from existing residential advertisers and volume growth in commercial property advertising. Residential advertising continued to dominate revenues while new segments such as holiday properties are also contributing to growth. During 2009-2011, Frost & Sullivan predicts the sector will further expand with the emergence of rural market classifieds. However, it notes of a significant potential restraint on growth in the shape of industry-owned websites, such as homehound.com.au, which now commands the third highest audience in property sites.
Automotive was the second fastest growing sector, increasing by 31 percent. Part of this growth is attributed to the relative immaturity of online automotive advertising and the strong migration from print to online media during 2008. Automotive dealer networks continued to increase their expenditure with online classifieds, especially through growing inventory volumes. In early 2009 however, the segment began to slow as dealers cut back on marketing budgets.
Employment, which accounted for 47 percent of total online classifieds revenue in 2007, dropped back to 45 percent in 2008. This was mainly due to the fourth quarter impact of the downturn on the recruitment industry which resulted in a significant weakening of the overall print and online employment advertising market.
After several very good years in terms of revenue growth and expansion, recruitment agencies are now experiencing a squeeze in revenues and market growth due to the reduction in employment vacancies across Australia. There is also a reduced need for employers to engage a recruiter due to the growing ease of finding candidates directly online. In 2009 and 2010, with the state of the economy uncertain and job security a concern, Frost & Sullivan believes that online recruitment sites will need to focus on the delivery of quality, rather than quantity of services, at a low cost per service and cost per placement ratio.
Looking ahead, Frost & Sullivan predicts a slower growth of the online classifieds advertising market for 2009 and 2010 compared to previously predicted levels. Real estate and automotive classifieds will continue to have the strongest growth through to 2012, with compound annual growth rates of 23 percent and 22 percent respectively. By 2012, automotive classifieds are expected to account for 20 percent of the overall online classifieds advertising market, up from 17 percent in 2008.
General and personal online classifieds advertising, which now accounts for just 10 percent of online classifieds, will continue to experience the slowest growth due to the relative maturity of these markets.
Phil Harpur, ANZ Senior Research Manager, Frost & Sullivan, comments, "The long term trend of steady increases in revenue year-on-year will persist, particularly as spending continues to shift from print to online classifieds. Although online growth is slowing, it's a much more resilient sector than print or television. Advertising buyers are likely to gravitate towards online given the increasing pressure to maximise returns on their investments. In fact, the economic downturn could actually accelerate the migration of print to online in some industries."
Australia Online Classifieds Advertising Market 2008-2012 forms part of Frost & Sullivan's Digital Media Advertising Program. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.
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