ICMA Vienna 2018: Top 4 takeaways for Classified and Marketplace Businesses


Earlier this month, iovox attended the International Classified Marketplace Association (ICMA) Conference in Vienna, where ideas and strategies were shared by leading professionals currently shaping the global classifieds industry. A vast range of topics were covered by senior level speakers behind the success of companies such as Schibsted, el Clasificado, Homegate and Gumtree, just to name a few. However, 4 main themes emerged at the conference and we’d like to share them with those of you who weren’t able to be in beautiful Vienna.

Here are iovox’s top 4 takeaways from ICMA 2018:

  1. The giants are coming.
    The big 4 tech players (Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft) have made moves towards the classifieds sector. Just have a look at your Facebook account and you will see a marketplace button in the middle of the main news section, which most likely will show you a notification sign. Amazon has expanded its marketplace project in India with Local Finds, and it has recently added an automotive advertising category.

    Will these giants be friends or enemies for the industry’s current players? Could this be an opportunity? No one can be sure yet about the impact or importance they will have. What is sure is that the incredible scale, amount of information, audience, resources and capacity of innovation these companies have, makes them players to keep an eye on.

  2. Invest in strategic new technologies like AI and Voice now to prepare for the future.
    As could be expected, innovation was a key topic discussed in Vienna. And among all the technologies considered, two stood out as key strategic investments that every company in the classifieds sector should be thinking about: Artificial Intelligence and Voice technology.

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) were two words we heard a lot during presentations. The full potential of machine learning is still emerging, but most companies in the classifieds sector are focusing on its possibilities. Increasing security and monitoring content in their portals, recognising objects, optimising buyer and seller matching, as well as ultimately improving the user experience by learning about user behaviour.

    Voice technology was also one of the most promising innovations discussed. Voice services have the potential to improve the user experience, and trends indicate transactions made via Voice devices are rapidly increasing. Therefore, in the future it could be key to retain buyers and keep them coming to your website.

  3. Transaction models are in transition.
    One of the key objectives of marketplaces today is “to get closer to the transaction”. That is, they want to go beyond merely connecting buyers and sellers and become real marketplaces where goods and services are bought and sold within the platform. Transaction models are so sought after because they offer the possibility of different and more profitable business models, as well as of getting more information and control over the market.

    In many cases this is already a reality. However, the challenges ahead are not trivial. For some portals, getting closer to the transaction might mean becoming their clients’ competitor. Additionally, managing transactions is very difficult to achieve in high value asset verticals, such as real estate and automobiles.

    So here comes the big question: will classifieds become closer to the transaction model by improving the information they receive about sales, or will they become the sellers themselves? The answer is, predictably, it depends. However, in the case of real estate and automotive portals, the trend seems to point towards the former.

    Some companies have already started trying innovative business models. For example, Makaan in India is a property portal which offers agents premium services in exchange for more information about the sales they make, as a way to get closer to the transaction.

    At iovox, we also help our partners to obtain more information about transactions being made via their portals. We do this by providing valuable information and data about phone calls taking place between buyers and seller. For industries where phone calls are the main way of communication, such as real estate and automotive, call data is key to help portals get closer to the transaction.

  4. Security, trust and reliable content are key.
    Among the challenges that classifieds portals face, improving security and trust is at the top of the list. A marketplace which does not ensure the safety of its buyers and sellers, and is not worried about fighting fraud and monitoring content, will quickly lose its users and clients, or worse. Just take a look at what has happened to Backpage.com. Additionally, increasing trust is a key factor if portals want to increase the number of transactions taking place through their systems.

    In Vienna several companies presented the solutions to improve security and trust. Besedo and Squad are using AI in order to improve content moderation and fight fraud. Shieldpay aims to make payments more secure. At iovox we are currently developing solutions to fight SMS fraud.

After learning and sharing at ICMA, it is time for all players in the classifieds industry to reflect, design and implement, paying special attention to the 4 topics discussed here. If you want to learn more about what we’re doing at iovox and how we may be able to help you with these challenges, don’t hesitate to contact us.

In the meantime, check out our app available for download in the Google Play Store today, or here for iOS.

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