According to ET:

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Sulekha, the free online search engine for local commerce, will soon be making its clients pay for its services, as opposed to being supported by corporate advertisements.

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Now this is what Google Insights says (in short it tells us about the interest over a period of time about the specific topic)

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I was surprised that with time, it’s interest kept on growing inspite of online classified space being proliferated by competitors. So I went over to Compete to see how they are faring in terms of UV’s per month. Below are the stats:

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It shows that over the last one year it was able to hold its user inflow constant. But my point will charging it’s client base to monetize is a viable business model? Infact, it is the first horizontal C2C website, a site that offers classifieds across segments, to switch to a paid model.

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According to an official statement by Sulekha president and CEO Satya Prabhakar,

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“The company has seen a 25% drop in its corporate ad revenues, owing to the slowdown, and expects it to go down by about 50% before the end of this fiscal. “Online ads are the first to go, as they have neither the permanence of print nor the visibility of broadcast.”

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But according to Angel Broking media research analyst Anand Shah,

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“In the internet medium, it is very easy for both the traders and the buyers in C2C segment to migrate to a free site. There has been no comparable instance in the online classifieds space before. But, take email service providers or TV channels who went paid after establishing popularity, have always lost a significant chunk of their users to their competitors“.

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Seeing all this, I put my two cents on this development for sure. Though I’ll keeping a check on this since this will amplify other online classified site owners to follow the footsteps.

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So what do you think? Will you pay to buy/sell items in such sites from now on? Are we ready yet to do so…!

Update: There seems there were some misinterpretation of how is going to monetize. Today, Sulekha’s PR team contacted me and gave me this explaination. Read below:

The comment that advertising revenues have dropped 25% (read above) and are expected to drop further was made with reference to the general industry trends that we are observing and not pertaining to specifically. Classifieds will continue to be free. We are implementing, however, multiple options where users can *choose* to pay either before they post an ad (for additional premium ad features) or after they have fulfilled their need (if they are satisfied with our services). We remain committed to serving the widest range of transactional needs for  users across multiple cities for free…while providing ways for them to pay if they choose to. We expect more than 95% of our users to continue using the Free option.

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