The growth is attributable to the development of recruitment business operations outside Finland. Alma Media Corporation and Monster Worldwide Inc. strengthened their cooperation at the beginning of 2014. The recruitment businesses in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic that were transferred to Alma Media as part of the expanded cooperation compensated for the decline in the segment’s domestic business operations.
The Marketplaces improved its result due to recruitment businesses outside of Finland
The Digital Consumer Services segment’s Marketplaces business unit continued to grow despite the weak economic situation in Finland and Europe.
The growth was particularly attributable to recruitment businesses outside of Finland, as they accounted for 58.4 (52.1) per cent of the segment’s revenue in 2014.
The recruitment business was developed and growth was achieved by engaging in closer cooperation with Monster Worldwide Inc. The expansion of the cooperation saw Monster’s services being added to Alma Media’s recruitment service offering, which is available in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Croatia. The companies are managed under Alma Career Oy, which began operations at the beginning of 2014. Alma Career Oy integrates recruitment services in all of Alma Media’s nine operating countries more closely and thereby enables international sales growth through Monster's global network. Synergies are also achieved through the ability to take advantage of Monster’s technologies and service concepts in selected markets.
The focus on digital recruitment services in the international market was also strengthened by the divestment of a non-core marketplace. In the fourth quarter, the Marketplaces unit sold City24, a housing portal operating in the Baltic countries. In Finland, the business unit continues with its current service offering in the areas of recruitment, housing and cars.
The housing-related online services in the Finnish market, Etuovi.com and Vuokraovi.com, completed a significant renewal of their services in 2014. The service renewals were implemented in the second quarter and were well received by both advertisers and users. The renewal of Etuovi.com included improvements to the service’s usability and search engine optimisation.
Vuokraovi.com launched Elämyshaku, a service aimed at increasing awareness of the Vuokraovi.com brand as a service for renting holiday homes, as well as providing new kinds of entertaining and useful content to users.
The Marketplaces unit’s services in the housing and car sectors were also strengthened through acquisitions.
In the third quarter, Alma Media’s subsidiary Alma Mediapartners Oy acquired 15 per cent of the share capital of Remonttibulevardi Oy, which produces the Urakkamaailma.fi online service. Urakkamaailma.fi helps property managers and consumers arrange competitive bidding for renovations, and offers contractors opportunities to find new contracts. The acquired online service further expands the range of services provided by Alma Media’s Etuovi.com service.
Alma Mediapartners Oy strengthened its automotive software expertise by purchasing all of the shares in Alma Media’s associated company Alkali Oy in the second quarter of 2014. Through Alkali, Alma Media can offer an extensive range of applications for the automotive retail industry. Alkali develops software applications for various automotive industry needs such as retail, rental and leasing.
Alma Diverso expands its service offering
The online business development and service unit Alma Diverso sought growth in 2014 through the renewal of its existing online services and the expansion of its service offering.
In early 2014, the business unit introduced a new marketing service, Meedio, which compiles all Finnish companies under one website and offers a self-service tool for companies’ marketing management. Meedio responds to the growing trend of automation and self-service in the world of marketing, where the purchasing of marketing is increasingly taking place via automated online services.
Alma Media responded to the growth of online commerce in the travel industry by acquiring 35 per cent of the share capital of Finland’s leading online travel service Rantapallo Oy. The shareholding in Rantapallo supports Alma Media’s strategy of pursuing growth particularly by expanding the Group’s digital service offering. Alma Diverso will be responsible for cooperation with Rantapallo Oy.
Development work also continued in Alma Diverso’s existing services. One example was the launch of a service for mobile and tablet devices by the online dating service E-kontakti.fi in late 2014.