Our annual series of reports on expenditure on advertising in the classified verticals of jobs, property and autos, kicks off with an overview of the print-to-digital transition that lifted the share of digital to over 50% in 2013. In summary, digital consumers are becoming more sophisticated and mobile traffic growth is accelerating. We thus expect classified services to be under pressure to innovate more in the next two to three years, particularly with improved mobile offerings. Zoopla Property Group, Rightmove’s rival in the UK online property duopoly, floated on the LSE in early 2014; both companies retain healthy growth prospects with pricing power stemming from a lack of credible competitors. In contrast, Guardian Media Group announced the sale of its 50.1% stake in Auto Trader to private equity group Apax in January. However, as the used car market starts to recover, the timing could be right in 2015 for Auto Trader to come back to the market in some form.
Our recruitment segment analysis focuses on the UK labour market’s continued improvement in 2014 while the outlook for 2015 and 2016 is still broadly positive. At the same time, the online recruitment market remains highly fragmented. On the advertiser side, the myriad of companies and positions being filled splinters the online market across a number of job boards while aggregator Indeed and professional network LinkedIn continue to grow market share. On the jobseekers side, professionals are increasingly being drawn to LinkedIn. We also see significant potential for category specific professional networks in certain recruitment verticals to continue building audiences and start attracting employer expenditure on recruitment advertising. LinkedIn has emerged as the biggest online supplier in the UK and exercises a degree of pricing power due to its audience scale, although competition remains intense. We project annual growth in online expenditure on recruitment to range between 4-8% to 2017, returning the total recruitment advertising market to low single digit growth as online gains gradually start to outstrip decline in print.