Junk Mail Media Group celebrates an extraordinary 27 years of being a market leader in the classifieds industry this year, not only in SA, but worldwide as well.
What started out as the vision of enterprising Frenchman Gerald Coniel in a garage in Pretoria in 1992, has today turned into one of South Africa’s most trusted local brands and platforms for buying and selling.
From humble beginnings, the Junk Mail Media Group has grown into a national multi-channel digital trading platform. Initially, a four-page publication with 1 000 classified ads circulated fortnightly around Pretoria, Junk Mail has morphed into an industry leader that is not afraid to take risks and try new methods with the sole purpose of delivering the best service to its subscribers and users.
Over the past 27 years, the popular South African King of Classifieds has achieved many milestones that have had a significant impact on the industry.
Through launching its own distribution division in 1993, Junk Mail South Africa expanded its circulation to Johannesburg and grew to accommodate over 30 000 adverts, and in 1995 it reached more than 150 000 readers. Two years later, the company seized the opportunity to serve the communities on the East Coast by adding KwaZulu-Natal to its bouquet of regional publications.
Another milestone that defined 1997 and transformed the recruitment industry in SA, was the launch of Junk Mail’s specialist publication, Job Mail. Junk Mail moved all of its vacancy adverts to a separate publication dedicated to jobseekers. Job Mail covered over 3 000 vacancies per edition and sold more than 25 000 copies fortnightly. Overnight, Job Mail became the largest career paper in the country.
In 1998, Junk Mail launched www.junkmail.co.za, the first commercial website in SA, starting off with an average of 20 000 searches per week and growing exponentially over the next 25 years. In the same year, SA’s top online job portal, www.jobmail.co.za, was also birthed.
In 2002, users could start placing ads via SMS and it would appear live on the website immediately. That year also saw the acquisition of 50% of Alli-Cat Publishing, and Truck & Trailer was launched, the largest trucking magazine of its kind in Africa.
Quickly becoming a recognised household name, in 2003 Junk Mail attained regional classified ads publication CapeAds, and became the clear and uncontested leader in the free classifieds industry.
When Junk Mail Classifieds acquired full ownership of Alli-Cat Publishing in 2004, South Africans were introduced to yet another new, exciting specialist magazine title, Auto Mart, a publication tailored to the buying and selling of cars and bikes.
Junk Mail celebrated another great milestone in 2006 when Auto Mart (www.automart.co.za) and Truck & Trailer (www.truckandtrailer.co.za) went online, vastly increasing its reach through user-friendly online platforms where people can buy and sell cars, bikes, trucks, tractors and machinery.
2009 saw the free classifieds industry undergo a metamorphosis of note as Junk Mail took on a completely new online strategy, launching a brand new, innovative website, ending subscription fees and allowing unlimited access to all adverts. Online trade adverts also became free of charge, providing a great platform for businesses to promote their products and services to a large audience without the worry of added marketing costs. At this point in time, Junk Mail boasted with over 13 million page views per month and this number was still rapidly growing.
Junk Mail has always endeavored to provide advertisers with the best service and an easy-to-use platform to buy and sell. Staying true to that promise, in 2012, the company added the account feature. Having a free Junk Mail account holds fantastic benefits for effectively and conveniently managing an online advertising strategy, for both private or trade advertisers.
With the rapid rise in popularity of social media and increased mobile phone usage, Junk Mail quickly recognised the influence and importance of mobile phones in the marketplace and consumer habits.
Junk Mail’s first mobile application, particularly for Blackberry users, was launched the following year. Android and iOS apps followed soon after, providing an easy and convenient way for people to buy, sell or browse and apply for jobs on-the-go on their mobile phones.
In 2015, Junk Mail took major strides on the digital and mobile front with the launch of a brand new, feature rich, less data intensive website with a responsive layout. A responsive layout means that no matter what device a customer uses, whether desktop, tablet or mobile phone, they are able to enjoy the same great functionality from Junk Mail they’ve become accustomed to. A responsive website adapts the way it is displayed according to the device used to access it.
Looking back on its rich history, Junk Mail became the market leader in print classifieds in record time. While leading media groups tried to launch similar products, the volume of Junk Mail’s content and its reputation as the King of Classifieds always made it easy to circumvent its competition. That reputation has followed Junk Mail successfully into the digital sphere, where it is also becoming a market leader for online classifieds in the country.
Junk Mail is a prominent name among traditional and new media publishers alike, not only locally but worldwide as well, and is no stranger to innovation awards, including awards from the International Classified Marketplace Association (ICMA),which represents global players in the international classified industry.
Junk Mail has always taken pride in being a forerunner for innovation and change and being a responsible organisation who cares for its environment and customers. Along with other key players in the industry, Junk Mail has also consciously contributed to policy change in online animal trading, actively fighting against unscrupulous pet advertising and the workings of puppy mills and fighter dog breeding.
The company’s key strength has always been the fact that it is one of SA’s most loved and recognised household names with a loyal customer base. It is where South Africans go to post free ads and sell their items or services, and where you will find serious buyers.
Junk Mail will continue to build on this great legacy and being a market leader in the free classifieds industry, both locally and worldwide, whilst continuing to offer the people of South Africa innovative and modern platforms to buy and sell for years to come.
By Felix Erken – CEO of the Junk Mail Media Group
Felix Erken is the CEO of Junk Mail Publishing, one of the largest local classifieds exchange in South Africa. His agility and tenacity ensured Junk Mail’s early adoption from purely traditional print to include digital and mobile platforms to ensure his customers were best served, no matter where they were or how demanding the digital rules.