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Ad-ding business

Pradipta Mukherjee  |  Kolkata 

Being a marketing graduate from Wharton School of Business and having worked with Saatchi & Saatchi and then with Microsoft’s online advertising division in New York, setting up an online classified advertisement booking service was a natural choice for 25-year-old Sharad Lunia.

“The inspiration came from my family which is running an advertising agency called Lookad India Limited for over 25 years now. I have grown up in the advertising business, worked with advertising agencies and have even managed online ad portals,” Lunia said.

Little wonder that Lunia decided to launch, an online classified booking service that enables users to compose and book classified ads across 44 newspapers, including 29 regional dailies, in India. According to the company, is accredited by the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), the primary governing body for all media publications.

However, having worked in the US, Lunia found the advertisement trend to be different in India. “While in the US the move is towards free newspapers and reading news online, in India the trend is completely opposite. Here, with literacy levels constantly growing, more and more people buy newspapers and read them too,” he added.

Lunia’s company currently handles close to 6,000 active customers, generating Rs 1 lakh a day through online classified bookings. A classified text ad costs between Rs 280 and Rs 2,360, depending on the newspaper and the city you want to advertise in. A classified display ad costs almost six times more because of the customisation it allows a user. monetises through revenue sharing agreements with partner publications and is looking to partner with certain category-specific online classified portals.

The website also offers complimentary language translation service for all releases in regional newspapers. So, a customer composes an ad in English and selects language translation, after which his ad is translated accordingly. currently caters to 18-19 regional language newspapers.

“So far, regional language newspapers themselves would translate an ad placed in English into their language. Now we are doing that job, and going forward, we would load a software on our website so that the customer is able to type an ad in a language of his or her choice,” Lunia added.

The young entrepreneur feels that classified ads, which account for almost 30 per cent of a newspaper’s advertising revenues, do not get impacted much by recessions.

“The advantage with classified ads is that they usually do not serve any branding purpose, but are more for direct contact with the target audience. This ensures consistent revenue flow,” said Lunia.

Going forward, the company intends to tap the newspaper readership in South East Asian countries such as Pakistan and Nepal.

“We are also looking at partnerships with other portals. For instance, we are very close to signing a partnership deal with, which is an online auto classifieds advertising portal, for content and subscriber sharing,” informed Lunia.

Post the deal, both and would have links to each other’s portals. Users would be able to post an online ad in as well as book an ad for newspapers in India through

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First Published: Mon, September 14 2009. 00:43 IST