Olx.in grows more than 9x in a year, to concentrate on growth now, monetisation later [Interview]

Amarjit Batra, Country Head, OLX.in
Amarjit Batra, Country Head, OLX.in

Online classifieds portal Olx.in seems to be stealing the march on Quikr.com, one of its closest competitors in the Indian market. Latest data from Comscore reveals that in the last 14 months, Olx.in has steadily grown in traffic to beat Quikr.com by a decent margin. The Online classifieds company which launched in 2006 has gotten more aggressive in the last two years with marketing (read television ads), addition of categories and improved focus on connecting individual buyers and sellers.

With the Indian Internet set for multifold growth in the coming years, the online classifieds space with a handful of large players is getting more competitive. It is expected that from 120 million Internet users this year, the number of Internet users will go up to 350 million in 2015. For Olx, which is now in more than 96 countries, India is one of the top two markets, says Amarjit Batra, Country Head, OLX.in. In an interview with NBW, the Batra shares more about the company’s growth. Edited Excerpts:

This seems like a crowded space now with players like Quikr, Click.in, Sulekha and many others?

There is a lot of confusion right now. Lot of people mistake us for something which we are not. We are basically a marketplace. We follow a free classifieds model which is a large opportunity globally. We are not an ecommerce site. We connect individuals to individuals. Our object is to allow disintermediation and help individuals sell, buy, rent etc with other individuals. Most models in India are currently based on many things at a time. They are into lead generation, advertisements, bulk listings and other things. We want to stay focused on individual listings.

We are in 500 cities and people look to sell and buy preferably in the same city. They meet up, fix the pricing and close the deal.There are no online payments involved.

What are the monetisation models you will look at?

There are different ways to monetise this. In the free classifieds model, some revenue comes very early and some comes later. One is advertising. We don’t charge users but we can charge businesses who want to target users through Google adwords. Second is through banner advertisements on our site. Like if someone is looking for cars, he could be shown a banner ad from a car dealer. The third is the core. Lakhs of people come to us. So we could have a small charge to display an ad prominently. For example, you could place your ad on top of the search by paying a small fee. Like a paid listing.

But we are not aggressively focusing on monetizing as such. We are focusing on growth. At the moment, we use Google adsense and are testing paid listing. We won’t be getting into banner ads for some time.

What has been your traction like?
We don’t share specific metrics which are internally available. But according to Comscore, the engagement on our site is very high. Latest numbers show that we have about 92 million page views in November. In May, we were only 10 million page views. Our actual numbers are much higher.

Out of the 96 countries you are in, how big is the Indian market?

India is one of the two 2 markets in 96 countries for us. For many global companies, its usually above 10th, but for us India and Brazil are very important.

Lot of what you do is moving to Facebook groups (like second to none). How do you address this?

We don’t see this as a threat. In fact we have a major Facebook presence. Over 2 million likes and a very engaged community. We are also very focused on Mobile. Our mobile traffic is 25 % of the overall traffic and Comscore doesn’t measure that.

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