Three of the country's largest publishing groups and Telecom Xtra may be headed for an Internet pile-up.
Wilson and Horton, Metro publisher ACP, Dominion publisher INL and Xtra have all recently registered a rash of Internet domain names related to classified advertising. A Hamilton company, Business Solutions NZ, has also joined the rush.
Wilson and Horton IT manager Tim Barrable says he has been aware of the trend and agrees it is "partly, I would imagine" a result of his group's plan to take the New Zealand Herald's classified business online.
"But I think there's also a general realisation that classified advertising is something the Net is ideally suited to," says Barrable.
Barrable says the Herald project is due to launch in March of next year - about a year after W&H first outlined a new Internet strategy eventually to encompass all its New Zealand media assets - "basically putting all our classified advertising on the Web starting with real estate, motoring and employment."
W&H recently established a New Media division and Chantal Dunbar, formerly with Xtra, has been appointed New Media development manager. The company parted with its Web developer Clearview Communications earlier this year and has since been working with Webmasters and Whitewater Technologies on the classified project.
Domain names so far registered by Wilson and Horton include heraldads.co.nz, heraldadz.co.nz, heraldautos.co.nz and heraldjobs.co.nz.
No overall name has been fixed yet, and Barrable says the role of some of the domain names registered - such as heraldnet.co.nz - has yet to be determined. It had been rumoured that the ad service would be called Yell, but this seems unlikely, given that the domain yell.co.nz was registered last month to a Titirangi woman.
Meanwhile, INL seems to be preparing to beef up its three-year-old JobNet Internet service in response to the Herald's moves. A whole range of occupation-specific domains, from accountingjobs.co.nz to tourismjobs.co.nz have been registered, along with jobnet.co.nz and jobnet-it.co.nz.
Telecom spokesman Glenn Sowry says Xtra has registered names including internetclassifieds.co.nz and xtraclassifieds.co.nz "so that they're available in the event that we want to pursue that business. No decision has been made yet. We register lots of domain names that may be of use in the future. "
Any move into classified by Xtra would presumably have implications for its relationship (via Auckland Live) with classified specialist Trade and Exchange, which already has a well-developed online presence.
ACP, publisher of Metro and Woman's Day, has been unusually active on the DNS of late, registering a variety of names, from buysell-exchange.co.nz to tradermags.co.nz, boattrader.co.nz and weekend-gardener.co.nz. A spokesman could not be reached for comment.
John Armstrong, a spokesman for Hamilton company Business Solutions NZ, which has registered classifiedads.co.nz and personalads.co.nz, confirms he is not working with a major publisher, but will say little else about his company project, which is being developed for a launch in mid-1999.