afaqs!

HT Media extends its classified advertising business online

By Kapil Ohri , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | February 25, 2009
HT's new online classified advertising site, AskHT.com will showcase - at no extra charge -- classified ads published in HT newspapers

HT Media has tied up with US-based OLX.com to launch a generic, online, classified advertising website called AskHT.com, which is an extension to its print classified advertising business.

According to the deal, OLX will be responsible for the development, maintenance and hosting of AskHT.com, while HT will provide ads from its print classifieds sections and will also promote the website across HT Media.

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Speaking to afaqs!, Rashmi Chugh, business head, Hindustantimes.com says, "Classified ads posted in our print publications will be made available on AskHT.com. No extra money will be charged from advertisers for this. In future, we will also allow advertisers to book for print classified ads through AskHT.com."

Earlier, the advertisers booked print classified ads through HTClassifieds.com, which is now integrated with AskHT.com.

Apart from offering the online classified advertising platform to classified print advertisers, the site will be opened to online consumers, who will be allowed to post their ads for free.

As with other online classified sites, on AskHT.com too, users can post ads in Hindi or English, across various categories, such as matrimonial, jobs, real estate, household services and courier services.

HT Media claims that within the two weeks of its soft-launch, the site has received 1.25 lakh ad listings.

Chugh explains why HT launched its classifieds site with a new URL. She says that HTClassifieds.com is a product from an earlier era, which was not suited to retail online classifieds and could not manage individuals posting or interactivity. Hence, there was a need to upgrade it. "We have gone with a new simple and short URL, new look and feel, in order to leverage the HT Media brand name and make the online classifieds product contemporary and competitive," she says.

No paid or premium ad posting services are available on AskHT.com, as of now. However, Chugh indicated that the company might review this later, once the site gains acceptance and traction. Currently, HT Media is only relying on corporate advertisements to monetise the site.

In the next phase, the company plans to boost interactivity among the users of the site and enable them to contact each other through the phone. Also, a mobile version of the site, named m.askht.com will be rolled out soon.

Another media company that has recently ventured into the online classified space is NDTV, through NDTVClassifieds.com, which is created through a tie-up with Quikr.com (formerly Kijiji.in).

OLX is also present in India as an independent online entity, OLX.in. Other players in the generic online classified advertising space in India include Sulekha.com, ClickIndia and Click.in.