Caxton enters online classifieds in SA in big way

23 Feb 2017

Caxton (JSE: CAT)+, one of South Africa’s biggest media companies by market capitalization, is entering the local online classifieds market in a big way.

It is roughly halfway down the road to rolling out eleven verticals bundled together on a horizontal platform at Hozi.co.za under the Hozi brand. The project is the brainchild of Dave Asher, CEO of Hozi Holdings Pty Ltd., a company 100 percent owned by Caxton.

Dave Asher, CEO of Hozi (photo from his LinkedIn page with thanks)

Hozi is based in Cape Town, where a team of 18 people are working hard to realize the ambitious plan.

About Caxton

In the financial year to end-June 2016 Caxton generated revenue of R7.2 billion++ and made a profit before tax of R590 million. Terry Moolman (72), co-founder and CEO of Caxton, also holds a controlling stake in the company, which owns 140 community newspapers, a national daily newspaper, 13 magazines and a number of printing businesses.

Asher (LinkedIn) and his team started developing the Hozi project in 2015 and by early this year four verticals were operating, namely real estate (called Homes), business services (called Biz), retail catalogues (called Specials), and dating (called Love). All four had income sources in place from the word go. (More about that lower down.)

The remaining verticals will be up and running before the end of 2017, Asher told us. They are Jobs, Cars, Events, Stuff (e-commerce), Stays (accommodation booking), Deals and Pay (a payment-gateway platform used by all the verticals as required).

Homes and Biz are managed in-house by Hozi, while Specials and Love are run in partnership with outside experts. For instance, Love is operated by dating-site experts The Dating Lab on contract. (The Dating Lab also operates KomOnsKliek, a dating site of Naspers subsidiary Media24.)

Hozi network

By end-2017, Asher will also be a long way down the road with his second big task: the rolling out of the Hozi sites (horizontal and verticals) to the 80+ hyper-local news sites of Caxton. “Each of these sites will fall under the local news sites branding, but carry the Hozi platform UX,” said Asher.

The Hozi office in Cape Town

He calls these sites “Hozi relabeled platforms” (HRLPs).

The roll-out is done with proprietary technology, built by Asher and his team specifically for this purpose.

Here is a list of the hyper-local news sites, which Caxton calls the Local News Network (LNN). 

The combined audience of the LNN and other digital assets in the digital portfolio of Caxton, is just under five million users per month. 

Hozi verticals have been rolled out to some of the 80+ local sites. To see what the four Hozi verticals look like on local sites, click: Homes (Sandton Chronicle), Biz (Kormorant), Specials (Benoni City Times), Love (Alex News).

When complete, the Hozi Horizontal Network Marketplace (as Asher calls the entire offering), will consist of about 990 monetized sites, representing eleven different industries.

“We believe no other classified business in the world has attempted to do what we are now doing here in South Africa,” said Asher.

Business models

Caxton is responsible for generating income for the Hozi sites. This will be done by Caxton’s sales team of 300 reps, located in 50 offices.

Biz offers free listing of business services and, for R600 per year, a premium listing with more features (photos, videos, client reviews etc.).

On Homes, private individuals are restricted to one rental property listing free every 3 months, plus one property for-sale listing every 6 months. Estate agents pay to list – how much, is not clear from the site. Agents must get in contact with Hozi. All listings are approved before going live.

On Love, browsing is free, but only paying members can contact others on the platform.

The vertical Specials earns income when the retail industry advertises its daily and weekly catalogues. Users browse through the catalogues, and click through to the stores of retailers.

Future plans

To stretch the audience and traffic of the Hozi sites further, Asher plans to offer other media companies (for instance Times Media) the re-labeled versions of the Hozi horizontal, for integration into their sites in the same way the Caxton hyper-local sites are doing now. This will be based on a mutually beneficial relationship between the two parties, Asher said.

Notes:

+ The company’s full name is Caxton and CTP Publishers and Printers Ltd..

++ In comparison, Naspers generated revenue of R962 billion in its FY2015/16.

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Christo Volschenk

Christo Volschenk is managing editor of the news on Aimgroup.com and our senior analyst covering Naspers. He brings more than 30 years of experience in business journalism to the team. The last 17 years he focused on classifieds and e-commerce. Apart from working closely with AIM Group, Christo is a freelance journalist, online editor, and translator. Before branching out on his own, he spent 15 years with Naspers in South Africa, where he worked as journalist, economics editor and online project manager. He now spends most his day editing the news reported by 18 colleagues in 18 countries from his base in Stuttgart, Germany.

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