News Ltd builds classifieds site on Google cloud



blog It’s not often you see Google’s App Engine mentioned in Australia in the context of cloud computing. Although the solution’s been out there as a platform as a service solution (its primary competition is probably Windows Azure and perhaps also some of’s offerings, such as, we haven’t seen many examples where the platform has been used in sizable projects, with most developers appearing to prefer more traditional infrastructure as a service offerings from the likes of However, at least one decently-sized implementation has surfaced, courtesy of Google Australia’s blog this week, where News Limited’s head of commercial platforms & products Joshua Lowcock writes:

“News Limited is one of Australia’s largest media companies, spanning newspapers, magazines, online, and subscription TV. We publish over 140 online and printed newspapers in major Australian cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth, as well as in suburban areas.

Classified advertising is a key revenue stream across all our markets, but traditionally booking and billing classifieds has been a manual and time-consuming process. We wanted to implement a solution that would allow customers to serve themselves by placing ads online.

The Google App Engine has enabled customers to do just that. We chose Google as the application is easy to build, easy to maintain and simple to scale as the user base and data storage grows. Functionalities within the Google App Engine environment, such as BigQuery – the prediction application programming interface – have also been really useful. For example we do in depth analysis of the ads, item pricing, and providing an internal reporting tool using Big Query.

We worked with 3 wks our Google Cloud Platform development partner to develop a self-service, production booking and billing system – – which we have developed on Google App Engine. It’s proving to be a real winner for both our business and our customers.

It’s fundamentally changed the way customers engage with our company – creating a more usable experience and superb responsiveness. It’s easy to use, and gives more control over ad content as well as the ability to publish ads online immediately. Online ads are free, while print ads are optional and require a small fee, but complement online ads by extending the advertiser’s reach.

When customers book ads using the Traderoo website, they get automatic email notification from the platform that tells them how their advertisement is performing. Traderoo is optimised for PC, laptop, smartphone and tablet so the browser and ad placement remains consistent, no matter what device our customers are using.

The real advantage for us is that our classified business has achieved faster time to market, lower costs and less overheads in the form of call centre time and manual data entry. The site has been a huge success, and we look forward to continuing using Google App Engine as we develop Traderoo further.”

To be honest … personally I can’t see why there’s a whole lot of point deploying this kind of service on Google’s App Engine, unless News Ltd wanted to do it as a proof of concept. After all, an organisation the size of News Ltd already has massive server hosting resources, and we’re not huge fans of locking IT services into a specific platform such as Google’s App Engine unless you absolutely have to. Why not simply build Traderoo on top of existing open source technologies in an existing open environment such as Amazon Web Services? We’re not quite sure — but it is interesting to at least see AppEngine used for some purpose in Australia. It’s also a little ironic that this kind of service is being built upon Google’s platform, considering Google’s own advertising revenues must have played a part in changing the nature of News Ltd’s classified ads business over the past decade or so ;)

Image credit: Briony, Creative Commons


  1. The GoogleApp engine isn’t really designed for external websites though, the whole sites setup isn’t really designed for external websites.

    What it is designed for is for businesses (or educational, or whoever) who use GoogleApps to create websites that access the data they have in the cloud to make a quick and easy website to compile that information.

    For example instead of having someone produce reports for management and on a weekly basis or whatever, management can simply go to the appropriate reports page and there it is, in real time.

    AppsEngine is good, but it should be left to intranet sites, no external.

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