Already last year there was a lot of talk in Finnish media circles about how Schibsted, who own, for example, Aftonbladet and Svenska Dagbladet, is coming and taking a big share of Finnish media's most profitable products: classifieds and market places. Now the land grab has started and its called Tori.
Tori has set up the shop quickly and started strong. It's modeled on the Swedish service Blocket. Monthly uniques for the month of January broke 300,000. That is an impressive number given the service had zero publicity and was only gearing up for the launch. The team, headed by the CEO Jussi Lystimäki, drove traffic to the site using Adwords and smart guerilla advertising tactics.
It looks like Schibsted is killing it and Sanoma and Alma Media are just waiting to get slaughtered. This is partly because of the efficient formula that Schibsted uses in every country it enters, partly Schibsted's flawless execution, and partly due to the complete lack of effort in developing the current Finnish services further. Huuto.net hasn't seen any development efforts to improve the site regardless of the horrid user experience that everybody is well aware of. Another big difference to Huuto.net is that you don't need to register with Tori.fi and you're not pulled into an auction, which further improves the ease of use.
The Norwegian media powerhouse has already played the same trick in Sweden, France and in Spain, and by doing so has become the #1 destination for products and services people love to swap. Altogether the Blocket-platform is in use in eight different countries.
So what's next for Schibsted in Finland? Most likely it will be to create a Finnish Hitta.se. So whoever owns Etsi.fi can plan on cashing in pretty soon. It will be interesting to see how far the media company can go with its formulaic approach. Will the old continent's old media hold the fort against these Vikings? Schibsted has clearly done something right and won big markets, but it has also taken hits, which can clearly be seen from its battered balance sheet that has suffered from the massive amount of traffic it has bought in from the markets the company has entered.
In France it took Schibsted three years to get the top spot in classifieds and market places with Leboincoin that uses the exact same platform as Tori. Let's see long Finland will last?