No paper - no news!

by Alistair Helm in

So the line used to go..  when there's no newspaper there's no news. How different it is today in our multimedia age for without newspapers we are certainly not without news - 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Yet this acceptance that the newspaper has lost its pedestal of relevance in the new age of multimedia still fails to make a dent in the marketing choice of most real estate agents and their clients. The fact is that the vast majority of property searching is done online, the vast majority of property enquiries emanate from websites and mobile apps and yet everyday real estate agents encourage their clients to sign up to advertise in newspapers and property magazines that barely get read and on average cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

It is fair to say that 3 out of every 4 dollars spent by the real estate industry in New Zealand either in the form of brand advertising or property advertising paid for by agents or clients ends up in the wallets of the print media companies - APN, Fairfax and Bauer Media in their multiplicity of newspapers and magazines.

So it is kind of amusing that during the Christmas period when there are no specialist property magazines published for 2 weeks and newspaper property supplements diminish to a mere slither of their former size the property market does not stop. Listings do not dry up - check out the number of listings added to property websites with dates aligned to the statutory holidays of Christmas and New Year. Four days that actually witnessed 353 new listings coming onto the market. These listings are being marketed without any print media by agents that recognise that the web is open for business 24/7 and delivers leads 24/7. 

The real estate industry could very easily manage without print media No loss of marketing impact would ensue. Certainly some major economic impact would befall the print media companies as savings were made by sellers and their agents.

So why is it that this industry continues to promote the role of print media and why does the print media continue to benefit so disproportionately? In other countries the role of print media in real estate advertisings has fallen to 25% or 30% of the total spend and those markets such as the UK, Australia and the US have seen no impact.

It’s very simple - brand marketing.

In this case the brand is both the franchise groups - the Bayleys, Harcourts, Ray White, Barfoot & Thompson and others as well as the brand name of the agent. Print media is loved and supported by real estate agents because print media presents content in branded sections. Just look at the 32 pages of Harcourts listings, 24 pages for Bayleys and 30 for Barfoot & Thompson. Each page identical in format creating a brand statement of scale and presence. Properties are not sorted by price and location as the web delivers much to the delight of buyers. Try finding all the properties in a single suburb within a price range in a magazine next time you see one!

Agents love print and real estate companies motivate them to seek advertising in print because it is  in their best interest. Its a brand marketing war being waged in the print publications with their clients’ houses as ammunition.

It’s time for the property owners to wake up to this misrepresentation of marketing value. To challenge the notion of print first and to realise that there really is no value in paper any more - that’s the news, delivered via online!