eBay is planning to expand its Web footprint by buying up leading classified ad sites in regions and industries where it doesn't now have a presence.
According to news reports, cash-flush eBay intends to take advantage of weak financial markets to acquire small private companies at low prices. Jacob Aqraou, general manager of eBay's global classified business, says the company plans in the next six months to buy a "fair number" of firms in areas such as Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, and industry segments like car sales and real estate.
The strategy would help to strengthen the classified advertising portion of eBay's e-commerce empire, which today spans 20 countries and accounts for between 5 percent and 10 percent of its $7.7 billion in annual revenue.
eBay already owns a 25 percent stake in Craigslist, and has purchased several other classified sites since 2004, including Marktplaats in the Netherlands and Gumtree in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Poland. In 2005, the company launched Kijiji, an internally developed site that operates in 8 countries, including the U.S., and provides the online platform for many of eBay's classified properties.
Aqraou says it makes more sense in the current economic climate to buy an existing organization than to try and build one from scratch.
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.