Vertical Search and India

Gautam posts on an interesting development in India around vertical search, could it be illegal in India?

It seems Naukri has successfully defended got an interim injunction againstBixee for (updated 14 Jan 2006) scraping of their jobs by another site. I have been wondering when this would happen and it is probably one of the aspects limiting the development of vertical search in countries outside of the US.

I can kind of understand where a traditional job board would see a threat from vertical search and why their lawyers and management would want to stop this before it takes hold. Let’s look here in Australia where we have 3 major job boards (Seek, mycareer.com.au and CareerOne) all who charge an amount to list your job with them. These organisations have spent huge sums of money building a brand so that when job seekers and employers think about recruitment they think of their sites.

Now if vertical search takes off and all of the jobs from corporate sites are aggregated within minutes of them being posted for free, why would you need a traditional fee based job board? The business model just died. From this point I see Naukri’s move as defensive and I would expect to see the same from the top job boards in Australia.

Job boards need to add value to the recruitment process not just be a classified engine. If a job board can begin the move up into the recruitment firm space, by adding useful features, then they add value and employers will continue pay for the service. From my perspective this is a far better result, except for the lawyers.

19 thoughts on “Vertical Search and India

  1. Even if the jobs from the top job boards in India or Australia are aggregated by a vertical search engine you still need to visit the actual job board to apply for the job.

    Do not forget that the vertical search engine is directing traffic TO the job board, it is not taking it away. The application process is still via the job board.

  2. If a vertical search engine aggregated from all the agencies then they could definitely cut out the a lot of the job boards market. They don’t necessarily need to aggregate from the job board, they just need to approach the agencies directly, that would be pretty easy to do in Australasia. But where do they make their revenue? And then how do they build their brand with a business that has no revenue model? At the end of the day Seek wins because they spend on their brand and job hunter’s think it is the best place to go. This vertical search engine would have to be pretty viral or have deep pockets to build share. It isn’t impossible, but there is certainly a long way from building it and then killing the competition.

  3. I agree Steven, the brand is the largest factor in the whole equation. As I stated in this post http://www.specht.com.au/michael/2005/12/18/seek-and-you-shall-find/:-

    “I feel the existing players have a dominate position in the market and that branding in this business is the make or break factor for anyone trying to enter the market.”

    Revenue would have to come from advertising and partnerships in the marketplace. Any competitor would need to be very viral and have very deep pockets to pull this off.

    harmonyjones while yes a vertical search tool does drive traffic to the job board, if their brand was large enough and aggregated both agency and employer postings from their corporate sites, why would you pay to a job board. This is what the job boards need to be careful of and start to add value to the recruiting process, more so that Seek has tried to do with their limit recruiter tools.

  4. Michael, no doubt if they did get large enough they can eat the job board’s lunch. I advertise and if I knew the engine was getting more coverage than the job board for less cost I would move in a heartbeat. The job boards must know that as well. We are in the early stage of the vertical search model so perhaps it would be a good idea for the job boards to start legal action. At least to protect them from the eventual possibility that vertical search gets into the job board business (charging for job listings as well as scraping others). I think that there would be a good case against them.

  5. I don’t understand the issue questioning the legality of a search engine indexing jobs on a job board. How can this be illegal? If I type your name into Google and find your resume or some information about you can I sue Google for this? Vertical Search engines do not “take” job content from the job boards and show them somewhere else (ie they are not stealing content) they are merely indexing data and referring relevant traffic.

    As far as the point about Vertical Search Engines growing and cutting out the job boards that is not a question of legality. That is an issue of market efficiencies. For example, a radio importer in Melbourne may today be able to purchase radios directly via the web site of a factory in China instead of from a trader in Hong Kong that he used before and in doing so gets a better deal.

    The trader in Hong Kong and the Job boards need to re-define their value proposition to the end user. It’s not an issue of legality.

  6. Harmony I agree with you to some extent. Competition is good, but didn’t you just say they aren’t competing with the job boards, they are just directly traffic to them…. So since we actually agree that vertical search engines ultimate goal is to compete with the incumbent job boards, then there are some real points of contention with vertical search on it indexing their data to compete with them. For business to be fair there must be some rights to protect your own information and product from unfair competition. I think you may have heard that Craigslist has banned one of the vertical search engines from scraping their jobs. If a Japanese car maker cuts their price on their cars to zero profit and then decides to sell them for 5 years until their competition goes bankrupt because they can’t compete, is that legal or a re-definition of their value proposition to their end user? This is an interesting discussion thanks Harmony, Michael.

  7. Steve – sorry, perhaps I was not clear. The Vertical Search Engines (by definition and in today’s examples) do not compete with job boards. The job boards are a classified medium that advertise paid listings. In many cases they are content creators. The job search engines today do not allow paid job postings, so they do not compete and personally I do not think this will happen. Yahoo hotjobs is an example of why this will not work. You have a clear conflict of interest between displaying your paid listing and doing your job as a search engine which is delivering the most relevant results to your user. You cannot do both.

    I also think you should be clear on the term “scraping” which generally refers to copying data from another site without attribution and not linking back to the original data, wheras “indexing” as performed by search engines only display a summary of the data, clearly recognizes the source of the data and provides links back to the source site. (thanks to Dave Mcclure of Simplyhired.com for articulating this distinction in one of his blog posts)

    The case of craiglists banning Oodle seems to be the exception rather than the norm and may have something to do with Ebay owning 25% of Ooodle and potential conflicts of interest in this regard. Also Craigslist still allows other search engines to index their jobs so I guess they have a specific problem with Ooodle and not with search engines in general.

  8. I am not sure if it is or is not an issue of legality in Australia vs India vs UK vs US. Right now Google has jobs from the major boards in Australia, check out this query http://tinyurl.com/937fh. I results do not link you directly to a job and are really not that accurate, therefore the boards are probably not too concerned as the traffic is driven directly to their sites. However if ABC search tool was to scrap the jobs exactly and provide a more complete result, where will job seekers go first? The new search tool.

    While search engines are not directly targetting a job board’s existence then there is no issue. As soon as this changes then the lawyers will get involved. Seek as the following in their terms and conditions:-
    INFORMATION FOR PERSONAL, NON-COMMERCIAL USE ONLY
    You agree that information contained on this Site is for personal use only and may not be sold, redistributed or used for any commercial purpose (this includes but is not limited to the use of Advertiser contact details for unsolicited commercial correspondence). You may download material from this Site for your personal, non-commercial use only, provided you keep intact all copyright and other proprietary notices.

    MyCarrer has a similar statement, and while I could find a direct one on CareerOne I am sure they could rely on basic copyright law. I firmly believe that for job boards to survive, outside of the court rooms, they need to provide more valuable tools for both recruiters and job seekers. A re-definition of their value proposition as you put it Stephen. Otherwise the only people who are going to win are the lawyers.

  9. Thanks Harmony, Michael, some great points there. To change tact a little and to defer to the obvious fact that you two both are much better versed than I on this topic. If the Vertical Search Engines don’t compete with the job boards and Harmony you mentioned that you don’t think that will happen, ultimately how do they make money?

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge guys! Harmony where is your blog??

  10. Thank you for your interest in Bixee. Please allow me to clarify that this is just an interim injunction, not a judgment. The case is under consideration and even the first hearing has not happened yet.

  11. I was just going threw my family traits and i seen your name in a wrestling web page and i wrestle to i got 2nd last year at state in lousiana. I am a senior

  12. The last post on the Subject was quite some time back.

    What I noticed recently was:

    1) As of date, the aggregated Jobs on Bixee.com website include Jobs from corp.naukri.com

    2) Infoedge (Naukri.com) has filed an application for IPO. There are 2 versions of the IPO
    Prospectus available on the SEBI (Indian Stock Exchange Regulator) website. In the first undated
    Draft – the case with Bixee has been mentioned under the clause Outstanding Litigation.
    However, in a later Prospectus dated 05 Oct 2006, the Litigation with Bixee is not mentioned.

    The Prospectus are available at:
    http://www.sebi.gov.in/dp/infodraft.pdf
    http://www.sebi.gov.in/dp/infoedge.pdf

    It is possible that the case has been settled.

    The Bixee Rep who posted above may like to clarify the latest position.

  13. Kuldeep, very interesting … it would be great to get some further feedback from the Bixee rep.

    (Actually I forgotten completely about this case thanks for highlighting it again.)

  14. Possibly an ad but I left it as it provides an additional job board in India for my readers to look at. However comments like that will not be tolerated.

  15. the next step of the vertical search engines is not just from the portals but search engine capablities specialized for jobs directly from the companies.
    Check Jobwyze.com. This is still is a beta stage but is addresses exatly that.

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