The world of real estate advertising has changed immensely since my first days in this business 20 years ago. It was not uncommon back then for agents and brokers to spend vast amounts of money canvassing broad geographies with direct mail campaigns in search of buyers and sellers, looking for the proverbial needle-in-a-haystack.
Before I arrived at Homes.com, our primary business model revolved around selling advertising in real estate magazines. We owned the printing presses, the fleet of delivery trucks, and the magazine racks in local grocery and convenience stores where consumers could pick up their Homes & Land magazine for free while they shopped for groceries. As you might imagine, it was a capital-intensive operation, a reality that was reflected in the advertising rates paid by thousand of successful agents and brokers.
We called it “locally targeted advertising” back then, and it was locally targeted, relative to the time. But local targeting – or geo-targeting as we now refer to it – had an entirely different meaning back then. The economies of scale for printing magazines required local to be defined in broader terms than digital media allows for now.
We couldn’t print magazines for specific zip codes or neighborhoods, so the advertising was at best available on a citywide basis. If you wanted to target wealthy home buyers in an affluent neighborhood, often times you were also paying to advertise to blue-collar neighborhoods. Better than other advertising alternatives at the time, but still a bit of a needle-in-a-haystack proposition.
Fast-forward to today. Homes.com is out of the printing business. Our real estate magazine is now digital, online in the form of a national home search portal, read by more than 12 million unique visitors on a monthly basis, 80% of whom intend to buy or sell a home in the next 12 months, and 90% of whom have not yet selected a real estate professional to guide their transaction.
Even better, the promise of geo-targeting has now been fully realized, allowing our clients to place their advertisements only on the pages that will be viewed by their intended audience in specific areas and zip codes. The needle has grown, or the haystack shrunk, whichever you prefer.
Developing advertising products that generate better leads and results for our advertisers – brokers, agents, builders, and mortgage professionals – is the fuel powering the growth and popularity of Homes.com. I’m excited today to announce the latest innovation in our long history of advertising products, one that will provide better targeting and more measurable results, in the form of better leads and quicker conversions. It’s called Local Connect.
Local Connect was developed with collaborative input from hundreds of brokers, agents, franchise partners, MLS providers, and key industry stakeholders. It’s a natural progression of our current Local and Mobile Ad products, which together have been matching agents and brokers with qualified consumers since 2011.
Local Connect ensures that the role of the listing agent and broker as the legal representative of the home seller remains front and center on the listing detail page. The commitment to clearly identify the listing agent and broker, and ensuring that lead inquiries are always routed to the listing agent or broker, are two of our core advertising principles, regardless of whether the listing is displayed for free or through paid placement.
Local Connect provides the following benefits to our advertisers and consumers:
- Listing agents receive more exposure for their listings and top placement on the lead capture form of their listings.
- Listing agents always receive leads on their own listings, whether or not they are paying to enhance their listings.
- Buyer’s agents receive better targeting to reach buyers at the right time, when they are requesting information about a specific property.
- Consumers can select to receive information from up to three qualified buyers agents – in addition to the listing agent – all with one lead inquiry.
Local Connect is designed to benefit all parties involved in a real estate transaction. Sellers and listing agents benefit by the scale of exposure their property receives through our high quality audience of buyers, often times for free. Buyer’s benefit through accessibility to accurate property information sourced from reliable MLS providers, brokers, and franchisors. And buyer’s agents benefit through access to their targeted audience of qualified and knowledgeable consumers.
Mark Twain once said, “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” We think Local Connect is the right kind of advertising to make our clients successful in 2015! See examples of Local Connect display for desktop and mobile.