This compares with growth in the 2008 financial year of 28 per cent demonstrating the marked impact of the global financial crisis on the local advertising sector. However the resilience of the Australian economy in 2009 was further demonstrated by comparison with expenditure on online classifieds advertising in the US and UK markets, both of which saw significant falls.
At the same time, the migration of classifieds advertising expenditure to the online channel has continued, with online now accounting for an estimated 25 per cent of total classifieds advertising expenditure, up from 23 per cent in 2008.
However, growth in online classifieds advertising is likely to taper off over the next three years reaching A$762 million by 2013 as the market reaches a higher state of maturity and social media tools provide organisations with an alternative medium to reaching target markets.
The forecasts were released in the Australia Online Classifieds Advertising Market 2010, the latest research in Frost & Sullivan's annual examination into the state of the local online advertising industry.
Of the three key sectors: real estate, employment and automotive, employment was by far the worst hit by the economic slowdown with revenue falling 21% for the calendar year 2009. The real estate and automotive sectors were less impacted with annual growth rates for 2009 of 24% and 22% respectively.
The employment market has naturally proved most vulnerable to economic conditions, with the volume of adverts directly linked to employers’ willingness to hire staff. The economic downturn began to impact on job advertising in late-2008 with a substantial fall in Q1 2009, although stabilising by the mid-point in the year.
The online employment sector has now entered a further stage of maturity, and this is now impacting on revenue forecasts for online classified recruitment, although there is still some potential for growth via additional migration from print to online channels for the regional, suburban, education and blue collar recruitment markets.
At the same time, organisations are now increasingly using social networking sites such as Linkedln, Twitter and Facebook to source staff. These social networking sites are providing employers with alternate avenues of sourcing candidates directly, thus bypassing the traditional online classifieds channel and creating a structural change in the online classifieds market.
The report found that the most significant competitive development in real estate online classifieds advertising has been the launch on Google Maps of real estate listings. This could challenge the established online real estate publishers if a critical mass of estate agents shift online classifieds advertising spend to the alternative portals that list on Google Maps, or even upload listings directly onto Google.
A second issue is the potential emergence of significant For Sale by Owner sites in Australia which facilitate the property owner advertising their property for sale without using an agent, thus enabling property buyers to obtain significant savings by avoiding the payment of agent commissions. These sites already exist, however their impact on the market to date is limited with over 95 per cent of home sellers using an agent to market their property.
Although the online automotive classifieds market was impacted by the economic malaise in 2009 with revenue growth down 31 per cent compared to the previous year, the sector overall remained resilient. This was primarily due to the used car market which remained buoyant, as many buyers preferred to buy a used rather than a new car, and more vehicles were available for sale.
Moving forward, the automotive sector is predicted to enjoy the highest predicted growth rates in online classifieds advertising as it is currently less developed in terms of offline to online migration when compared with the real estate and recruitment sectors.
Phil Harpur, ANZ Senior Research Manager, Frost & Sullivan, comments, “Over the past few years, the fundamental driver behind the growth of the online classifieds advertising market has been the migration of expenditure from print classifieds to online classifieds, as advertisers have gradually switched their expenditure to the online channel, or started using the online channel alongside the print channel.
“However, as the Australian online classifieds market matures, it is, like the print classifieds market, becoming more closely correlated with economic conditions. This is not to say that the migration from print to online has ceased, but it is no longer the overwhelming market force that it was in the early stages of growth of the online market, where factors such as the state of the economy had much less relative impact on overall online classifieds growth.
“As select sectors in the online classifieds market, such as the recruitment sector, have established themselves as more popular than print, both companies and consumers are questioning whether they also need to advertise on the print channel at all,” Harpur adds.
Australia Online Classifieds Advertising Market 2010 forms part of Frost & Sullivan’s Digital Media 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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