ID Home
Media Majors Crank Up Web Wars
Michael Sainsbury, The Australian

THE battle for Australia's $300 million online classifieds market has resumed, with News Limited appointing a new chief to beef up its automotive site and James Packer's PBL Media preparing to launch a property site.

The automotive classifieds market in Australia was worth about $560 million in the 2006 financial year, according to News Digital Media operations chief Nick Leeder.

But he said barely $50 million of that was spent online.

"The market will grow by about 40 per cent this year," Mr Leeder said.

NDM, whose parent News Limited publishes The Australian, has appointed Ed Smith to run

Mr Smith, who was previously head of retail segments at St George Bank and chief executive officer at dotcom venture Virtual Communities Ltd, will report to Mr Leeder.

"It's a new position," Mr Leeder said. "We are in the process of upgrading the management team at NDM."

Mr Smith's appointment follows last year's naming of Stephen Hollings to head NDM's jobs site CareerOne.

Mr Leeder said NDM would soon announce a new chief for its search play TrueLocal.

Automotive, property and employment classifieds are the "big three" categories online and competing for dominance are the major traditional media companies News, PBL and Fairfax Media along with Telstra's Sensis directories business., controlled by PBL Media, is the leading car classified site, according to research group Market Intelligence. Sensis's Trading Post group is second. Carsguide and Fairfax's are neck and neck for third place.

Carsguide has doubled its monthly unique browser numbers in the past 12 months.

The next big move is expected to be PBL's property website, which will challenge the dominance of News's and Fairfax's Domain.

Myhome will have equity involvement from real estate companies and Microsoft, which co-owns Australia's leading consumer portal, Ninemsn.