It is the full page advertisements that catch the readers’ eyes than a classified ad in a tiny column. But these tiny ads mean a lot to those who seek for exact goods or services. Those who want to sell such goods and services also depend on classifieds as they cannot afford big advertisements. So, though the classifieds are in small print and space, it is a big industry.
Lake House-owned Silumina and The Sunday Observer weekend newspapers have been the pioneers of classified advertisements in the print media in Sri Lanka for a long time but Wijeya Group’s The Sunday Times and Irida Lankadeepa weekend newspapers grabbed a significant amount of that market with the introduction of Hit Ad and Lahi Pita advertorials. One category Lake House still owns the majority of the classifieds is the obituaries.
Hit Ad also launched a web version to compete with the then existing advertising sites and the former had almost a free run there until the launch of http://www.ikman.lk. Ikman.lk invested a huge amount of money on advertising their site on both print and electronic media and it offered free service. They advertised their site especially during live cricket matches so they became a household name in the country.
Few days ago I came across www.smartmarket.lk another free classifieds site. I wanted to dig in as I saw it has some innovative technology and social media friendly outlook so I was able to talk to its owner, Mr. Björn Holmgren, the Managing Director of Sirius Alpha (Pvt) Ltd. Originally from Sweden, he runs business in Sri Lanka for the last 15 years. Coincidentally Ikman also is owned by a Swedish company. In fact Holmgren had started smartmarket.lk before Ikman did. Eventually both sites went online in June 2012. In fact Ikaman had heard that Sirius Alpha was starting a free classified site in Sri Lanka and immediately they opened up an office in Colombo and launched their site. That can happen in IT industry as there is no need of moving big things to start an IT venture.
smartmarket.lk is better designed. It has more images in its website so that the visitors who do not have a good English knowledge also can use the site easily. They are yet to introduce Sinhala and Tamil. It has real Apps for Android and iOS. Their customer service traps 99% of all scam ads, which is seen coming up on almost all other sites. They answer emails/phones promptly. They also have the possibility for advertisers promote their ads with what they call “extra features,” like highlighting, put on the first page, and so on. But you have to pay a small fee for that. They also offer banners for companies that want to target a specific category of people. They have this scheme to gift free movie DVDs for those who advertise with them.
The most popular categories, in terms of number of advertisements, are electronics, vehicles and real estate. But you can see hundreds of other advertisements too. For instance, my 5-year-old son is eager on space related things and he keeps asking me to buy a telescope. I searched for a telescope through smartmarket.lk and there was one advertisement with exactly the same price and quality range I was looking for. So, I would recommend you to try this out if you want to buy or sell anything.
SmartMarket.lk has its headquarters in Colombo, Sri Lanka where all management, development and marketing is being done. SmartMarket has announced it is in an expansion phase in 2013 with new partners and services. The team behind the venture is comprised with all Sri Lankan brains except the company MD, Mr. Holmgren.