The Sun and The Times publisher News International has made a “multi-million” investment in Globrix – a property search engine that aims to use “Google-style” ads as its business model. The exact size of the investment or stake were not disclosed; this is the first and only investment. London-based Globrix is due to launch in November and is founded by a team including CTO Ian Parry, a former exec with search companies Fast and Autonomy. Estate agents will get to list their properties for free at the site because it will” generate revenues from the sale of advertising space around the results in the same way as search engine businesses such as Google”, the company says. It’s a bold move aiming to copy in the property market what is becoming the dominant business model supporting the online publishing business. Zoomf also does it this way. The challenge is – is an ad impression worth more than the amount an estate agent would otherwise pay?
But while Google (NSDQ: GOOG) searches produce a broad array of advertising subject matter, Globrix will need to carefully manage inventory across just one niche category – the company assures me advertising will be property-related but will also include financial products like home insurance and services like conveyancing and legal products. There will be some element of payment – a Property Of The Week slot will be sold on a per-area basis.
Interestingly, while the likes of DMGT and Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) have, over the last couple of years, snapped up a series of classifieds websites outright, here, News International is only making an investment. It does own 50 percent of Propertyfinder, however. “This investment is about us
remaining at the forefront of what’s happening commercially and technologically,” said News International MD Clive Milner.