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Domain invests in trade service, launches bots

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Domain Group has acquired a 35 per cent stake in in Oneflare, an online marketplace that connects consumers with local trade service providers such as cleaners or plumbers.

The service allows consumers to get fast and competitive quotes while businesses, of which Oneflare has 80,000 registered, can attract new customers and contact them directly.

Fairfax Media chief executive officer Greg Hywood said the company continues to see significant opportunities to invest in Domain Group as it expands into adjacent markets.

“Local trade services represent a substantial market and Oneflare is very well positioned to take advantage of the growth in this rapidly-emerging digital marketplace,” he said.

“For Domain, this investment allows Fairfax to broaden its consumer and agent offering across the property lifecycle, expanding beyond property advertising into the home improvement and trade services categories.”

Oneflare was founded in 2011 and attracts 1.3 million visitors a month across its sites.

The investment follows News Corp Australia’s 25 per cent acquisition in home improvement site Hipages last year.

Domain bots an Australian first

In a separate development, Domain has become the first Australian company to introduce bots onto Facebook’s Messenger platform.

Property seekers using the social network’s messaging platform can “chat” with the artificial intelligence-powered Domain bot to get price guides or be shown properties relevant to their location or search.

Bots are software designed to facilitate a conversation-style interaction and can be utilised for subscription content such as weather updates, or for customer-service or commercial interactions.

Facebook launched Bots for Messenger at its F8 developer conference in April with launch partners including CNN and shopping app Spring.

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