In a real estate market that’s shifted poles (like if Earth’s south and north poles switched) what’s a well-known tactic for survival? Surf.
Youth, sometimes, needs to embrace history. Anyone remember DoubleClick’s privacy fiasco in 2000, the resulting state and federal government investigation, and the apex of it’s resolution? Seems like Facebook could have learned a few things from tech-bubble-run-up-history–at least with respect to how to manage a blow-up from a PR perspective (DoubleClick is still around, after all). And speaking of bubble-run-up, check out this vid.
UPDATE: Obviously FaceBook backed off on this approach. Personally, I’ve experienced less interruptive advertising lately on FaceBook.
At its core Trulia applies intense competitive pressure to traditional media firms that historically–in the collective sense–bilked real estate firms out of millions–if not billions–of dollars for essentially non-measureable advertising. Sure there’s the one-off case of a person who walks in the front door of a branch office clutching a Sunday advert who actually purchases a home. However, it’s much more likely that a buyer nowadays will visit a firm’s most important branch office–that firm’s website–when beginning a home search. Thus, with its launch, Trulia’s model filled a gaping advertising chasm essentially ignored by traditional media firms (i.e., sending targeted traffic to real estate websites), and these traditional media firms have since been scrambling to catch up (what’s wonderful to observe is that Trulia likely has around 100 employees and it’s seriously challenging traditional media firms for online advertising market-share dominance–REALTOR.com included–that collectively employ tens of thousands of employees. Such is the power of elegant code and focused leadership).
So where does Trulia reside in a modern media mix? As an advertising replacement to traditional media and / or REALTOR.com? For some firms absolutely. For other firms decidedly not. For some real estate firms the decision to go or not go with Trulia (or REALTOR.com, New York Times, etc) has been based on evidence. What evidence? Evidence derived from analyzing the quality of traffic / lead sources: in some cases it makes sense to stay with REALTOR.com, and in other cases to have Trulia replace both REALTOR.com and the New York Times as primary sources of traffic / leads. For the firms described, decisions were made based on data: traffic-source-to-agent-placement ratios, traffic-source-to-showing-appointment ratios, etc. In some cases Trulia won, in other cases it was REALTOR.com that won, and in still other cases it was the New York Times, etc. Nevertheless, it all netted down to what the data showed.
Accordingly, real estate firms looking for marketing solutions should find a set of tools that measures, quantifies, and interprets the data. What this means is that real estate firms need to wipe off the muck of data analytics myopia and embrace the basics: segment prospective consumers based on demographics and decide which set of demographics to serve (recite the old adage “You can’t be all things to all people” when doing this), apply the same analysis for each traffic / lead source (for example, Trulia may deliver higher quantities of urban young professionals, whereas REALTOR.com may deliver higher quantities of suburban soccer moms), determine what traffic / lead sources “convert” at the highest ratio per each segment targeted, apply these findings to the respective traffic / lead sources, and make an informed decision to stay with or abandon such as they apply to the targeted demographic.
UPDATE: Since I posted this in Dec ’07, I’ve interviewed numerous brokers and agents who’ve said that Trulia’s delivered lots of real business to them (i.e., high quality traffic that resulted in leads that closed), and that their clients are extremely pleased with the exposure their listings get via the Trulia vertical. Further, several interviewees informed me that Trulia is their number one or number two source of traffic, with one interviewee telling me that Trulia beats all other sources including paid traffic sources.
“Was anyone surprised with Trulia’s business model?,” wonders this post. For industry watchers? Not really. For real estate firms that shared listings content? Not really (at least the 30+ firms I’ve spoken with). But then again Trulia essentially repeats an earlier model: TV GUIDE.
UPDATE: Many of firms interviewed informed me that the Trulia relationship allows them to manage their advertising costs more efficiently for more effective results.
TV GUIDE used data provided by television programming companies to create a profitable company. It was the early years of broadcasting and broadcast companies were searching for new and creative ways to advertise their shows. TV GUIDE employed creative editing and advertising services (e.g., enhanced listings) to generate revenue and expand its reach (into broadcasting services); so much so Rupert Murdoch purchased it in 1988 (along with Seventeen Magazine and The Daily Racing Form) for $2.8 billion.