Fraud and disruptive business models are biggest threat to the classifieds industry, survey shows

Summary of ICMA Industry Survey 2018

The ICMA Industry Survey was conducted during February-March in 2018. There were respondents from all continents, 55% from Europe. About half of the respondents were ICMA members. The sample was skewed towards upper management as almost half of the respondents were titled CEO or COO.


The professionals inside the classifieds industry are fairly confident about the future of the industry and also of their own businesses both in terms of revenue and profitability. However, the biggest threats to the industry are coming from outside the industry: from Google and Facebook and other companies with disruptive business models.  Increasing fraud and content theft are also seen as major threats to the classifieds industry.


Even though there is ample talk about data and transactions, the main income sources are still listing fees and display advertising. Data, transaction fees and ancillary services still play a minor role and are seen as future revenue sources. The consumers’ unwillingness to pay for anything can also be seen by the industry: even though a major part of the content (i.e. listings) comes from consumers, the revenue comes mainly from businesses.


ICMA always conducted an internal survey only for members. In Vienna we published the findings of the latest Industry Survey to the attendees of the ICMA Spring Conference 2018. About one third of the participants said that they are market leaders in their countries. The most important revenue source are still listings and the question that arises is how the marketplaces would answer to the aggressive initiatives of GAFA. The survey also showed in which fields ICMA could initiate activities in favor of the entire marketplace industry e.g. fraud detection and how to fight against that. ICMA will publish regularly a new Industry Survey and will present the results at the ICMA Conferences.” says Heinz M. Schwyter, the Chairman of ICMA.


The results of the survey were presented during ICMA’s spring conference in Vienna.

The next conference organised by the International Classified Marketplace Association will be held in Malta between 10-12 October 2018.