Here are the articles posted on Facebook over the past week - short, spontaneous insights and observations which I felt needed immediate discussion and didn't warrant long-form articles written.
Realestate.co.nz this week unveiled its new TV commercial. It’s another execution is what has seen a barrage of advertising undertaken by the second places property portal in the past 12 months, as it has stepped up to compete more aggressively with Trade Me Property as it has weathered the wrath of backlash from it pricing model changes last October.
The new advert is funny which is a great attribute for TV advertising and reading some of the comments posted on Facebook, their followers seem to like it as well. Judge for yourself.
From a marketing perspective rather than a purely consumer perspective I have some concerns. I make these in an objective manner without bias to provide a perspective to the commentary I regularly make as to the competitive tension that exists between these two leading property portals in NZ. I have similarly made the same critical review of Trade Me Property TV advertising in the past.
This creative execution is built around the proposition of comprehensive content “The most homes in NZ”. This is the rational takeaway message that the campaign tries to convey. This message forms a part of the print media campaign and is in the voice-over of the TV commercial. However turn off the sound (which is always regarded as the acid test of TV commercials) and you are seeing the message “Realestate.co.nz Where property finds people” - a very different message and brand promise.
I have a problem with this campaign. We have a clever execution in print with the Monopoly theme - bit of humour and good instant contextual referencing. Then we have a different execution around hats - sure there is the great lyric “wherever I lay my hat - that’s my home” but it feels somewhat of a stretch. Then there is the DIY execution which I do get (just) but when sharing it with friends at the weekend most didn’t. Some thought it was to do with The Block or was Mitre 10 now part of Realestate.co.nz?
I also find a disconnect between the campaign idea of most homes for sale - being about the greatest choice, best solution when looking for property and the tag line “Where property finds people”. I know it is play on “Where people find property” - but why not say that or better still use a line which failed the complaint raised by Trade Me Property to the ASA back in 2006 “The only place with everyplace” - although that would still fail today as Trade Me Property is the only pace to find private sales.
That brings me to the major problem. This campaign is vulnerable! It could well be the case that given the revised pricing model announced by Trade Me Property in early August, the point of difference of “The most homes in NZ” will become null and void and once again Trade Me Property will claim ascendancy to the mantle of “The most homes in NZ” and these ads - the whole campaign in fact will have to be trashed.
Whilst “The most homes in NZ” has become a point of difference in the context of the competitive powerplay between Realestate.co.nz and Trade Me Property I also have to wonder if it actually has more relevance to real estate agents than to the average property searching buyer jn NZ. When they go to either portal they have no interest in the fact that Realestate.co.nz has 37,892 and Trade Me Property 31,369 nor that when searching in Tauranga there are 1,241 listings on Realestate.co.nz and 1,834 on Trade Me Property (oops looks like Trade Me has regained ascendancy there) - what people are really interested in, is what properties are on the market and for this they rely on email alerts - a process that provides no context to relative inventory as if inventory is relevant.
Let's be clear, in my mind Realestate.co.nz are smart to be investing in brand building and the results prove it - their traffic has grown faster than Trade Me Property and they have narrowed the gap from a factor of 4 to close to 2.5.
However brands are not about messages and facts, they are more around heart and minds. Brand loyalty and advocacy comes from memorable experiences and this is where some of the investment money should be being spent. Developing the user experience of the platform on both desktop and mobile. Adding killer features that are standard on property portals around the world that still allude both of these portals in NZ. These investments would be sustainable and drive brand switching which TV adverts can never do. TV adverts at best only stimulate trial.
There is a war being fought right now in the US - a high stakes tussle between the 3 aspirants of the property portal industry. The prize is a slice of the more than US$6 billion a year spent by the real estate industry in marketing, coupled with the potential of a foothold into the influence of more than US$60 billion in transaction fees a year. By comparison the NZ comparable numbers are around $100 million in marketing and $1.4 billion in fees.
The three players in the market for the eyeballs and influence of the buying public of the US are Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia and each have today rolled out their new season TV commercials perfectly timed for the Spring home buying season.
I have always been partial to TV advertising and in some ways I'm sad that the heyday of TV commercials is past and their relevance is diminishing - they are the ultimate creative medium, as creatives and production crews combined with massive clients' budgets all seek out that holy grail for that one special ad that transforms a company and becomes enduring and memorable - think Coke ads and Toyota ute ads.
The latest collection of adverts for these real estate portals reflect perfectly the differing personality of these three companies and their distinct point of difference and viewing them further reinforces these differences.
The industry stalwart, serious, factual, professional. The site is the 'official' site of the National Association of Realtors and as such focuses on facts - more listings, more accuracy, more up-to-date. All wrapped up in a warm 'idealised' family of wholesome values from a place only existing in TV commercial land - lightly glazed with humour.
Zillow is the leader in eyeballs at the moment with a staggering 77 million unique visitors per month and plays an emotional card creating beautiful vingettes of real people 'looking for a place for your life to happen' rather than a boring functional requirement to move home, or just find or buy a house. It's another tear jerker to complement the homecoming advert from last year. In some ways it is similar to Realtor.com full of purity and the idealised perfection of a perfect couple - mid market, middle America. The search functionality featured in the ad might have been more convincing if the search term was "tree house" instead of 'big tree' but that would have killed the punch line and I just did!
Trulia has the appeal of being the battler in this threeway tussle, not the scale of Zillow and not the authority of Realtor.com, however they create a unique experience, they focus on real situatons and inject subtle humour and insight that is hyper-local which is important. It is the subtly l love, the insinuation that is made of the situation - creates memorability and this ties into the campaignable idea of 'Moment of Trulia' - gets my vote. Shame though about the competition as the end frame - seems to spoil somewhat the authenticity and emotional connection.