“The aim was to work together as one company and see if we could bring the sites — a car vertical and a horizontal — together to reach more people.”
Geza Palocsay, managing director of Schibsted Classified Media Hungary Kft, says building a strong horizontal site to keep a leading vertical in its top position has helped both sites grow in a declining autos market.
He will be speaking at AutosBuzz.com (upcoming in London 17-18 Sep) about how to leverage synergies between car verticals and horizontals.
“I joined in 2014 and in 2015 we started to monetize our general classified site. This continued through 2016 and I got a request from the group to take over Hasznaltauto, which was already a market-leading motor classified site.
“Jófogás, set up in 2010, is a general classified site with a strong cars category. It’s the No.2 site in Hungary. Hasznaltauto, established in 1999, is the No.1 car vertical in Hungary. The aim was to work together as one company and see if we could bring the sites — a car vertical and a horizontal — together to reach more people and identify ways to help Hasznaltauto grow.
“In my presentation, I’d like to share three key actions we undertook to do this; what went right and what went wrong in this journey.
“We started a lot of common projects and introduced ways to harmonize the sites. We wanted to identify a way to channel the clients between the two companies and grow a great classified site technically for Jófogás, without harming Hasznaltauto’s business. Our team tried a lot of things and the majority of them worked but other projects didn’t work. I think it’s important to share these aspects too because these lessons give a lot of extra benefit to other businesses.
“We have recorded double-digit growth month-on-month through 2017, 2018 and so far, each month in 2019. Since 2017, many automotive sites have been declining but we are still growing at a time when the competition is harder than it has ever been.
“I’ll explain from a marketing point of view, what we went through to reach our current level of success, what we are doing now and how we review operations to make sure we are still up to date. We are always innovating and working out how we can bring new things to both sides; some work and some don’t. We review which sites to test on — Hasznaltauto or Jófogás — and decide whether it’s good for one site and whether to roll out the process to the other site. Some initiatives may only suit one of the sites but if they work for both we decide how to connect the product to the other site.
“Under current circumstances, the two sites we own are defending each other.”
What new developments are you working on?
“There are many initiatives to become more transactional in each category. This is a crazy journey because lots of companies are spending lots of money. No one has found the magic secret yet but that is where we are heading.
“There are a lot of challenges in the auto sector. These include how big cities are organizing and regulating traffic; car-sharing; increased environmental consciousness among consumers; more use of public transport; and a new generation of consumer.
“In Hungary, young people are not buying as many cars. It was surprising to me because when I was 18, my first priority was to get a driving license as soon as possible. It’s never been cheap to do the course and get your license but now the Hungarian government financially supports learners with €100 to get a driving license. This is because young people don’t want the licence because they don’t want to buy the car.
“The interesting question is whether they don’t want to or can’t. I think they have a lot of other options which can be alternatives for a car. These are challenges which all market participants must face.”
What issues are affecting your business?
“Facebook is significant because its marketplace is trying to eat up our share. People only visit traditional classified sites, especially auto verticals, if they want to buy or sell.
“This is not the same for Facebook. For a traditional classified site the content is pulled by the user, they access what they want through search. On Facebook, the content is pushed on the user, linked to browsing habits or subscription preferences. It’s more convenient and because users go on Facebook every day, its user frequency is a threat to a general classified site.
“The second challenge is how we can become more transactional and the automotive services a classified site needs to offer to keep its audience.”
Geza Palocsay is the latest in a series of interviews with speakers at the AutosBuzz.com conference in London on September 17 – 18. Geza is managing director of Schibsted Classified Media Hungary Kft. The company operates Jófogás and Használtautó.hu. Geza was placed number one on “The Most Influential People on the Local Digital Market in Hungary” list in 2017 and 2018.