Thank you to realestate.com.au for providing me with a copy of their new Eastern Suburbs property guide (paper). Even though I live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, the guide for various reasons is not delivered at this stage to apartment complexes. (I live in a small complex).
The Property Guide focuses on the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney and currently has a circulation of 50,000.
Realestate.com.au CEO Simon Baker made it known in his press release that this is a trial and may or may not be continued/expanded to other regions.
So I spent a couple of hours reading through the format and the guide, writing notes as I went. This is probably the most I have critiqued a guide so be fair to others and realestate.com.au, I will write a comprehensive report on them soon.
The first thing you notice is the size, it is smaller than most and is very comfortable to read. Some others guides are too big and wieldy. I think this is the best way to go.
So here we go.
The listings seem to be in a loose suburb format with a couple of other suburbs mixed in (presumably because agents have paid for this) and it is very well laid out. It is a little confusing going from Bellevue Hill to Woollahra and then back to Bellevue Hill though, I don’t know if this is deliberate or a mistake.
There seem to be a two different formats agents can choose from, which is basic and one that is a little larger. The larger ones do stand out a fair bit. Some developments do have full page ads as well.
Agents get a small, clear logo on each listing, an image and some basic property details, the slightly bigger ads benefit from a larger image and some more descriptive text but that is about it.
However and this is my big beef, it does not seem to have web addresses for any of the agents, yet each property has a shortcut web address to realestate.com.au with a property ID number directing traffic to realestate.com.au
This means that all readers have to go to realestate.com.au to get more information about the property. The magazine will point out that this is probably what users want(and he may be right).
However I think that agents websites usually carry a whole lot more information about the property, minus all of the annoying ads that seem to surround each listing on realestate.com.au and all major portals.
If this format is to take off then realestate.com.au will be massive winners, because every single listing directs traffic to the realestate.com.au website and not the agents.
This does go against everything I keep telling agents, take control for your own sake as the Internet is the last area of advertising you can control.
I would much prefer agents to advertise their own websites and shortcut web addresses for their listings. However this is a smart play by realestate.com.au as most agents do not really understand this.
One other beef – Adverting
The guide is 95 pages and there are 100 ads of different sorts for realestate.com.au products and services within the listings, 34 of these ads a 1/4 page, 24 are 1/8 of a page and 32 are 1/16th of a page. Also every page has a footer with ads on it.
On top of every single agents listing having an ad (I couldn’t be bothered counting) it makes this one big promotional guide.
If I were realestate.com.au I would get up my art department, all reasearch has shown that once a consumer gets use to an ad, their eyes and mind ignore them, that is why banner ads simply do very little for the advertisers. I would think some difference in style for each type of ad would work better and be smarter.
I actually like the guide, but if successful it will be a great thing for realestate.com.au and some people may say that this is the perfect strategy and if I were the owners of realestate.com.au I would think the same, it is a perfect strategy!
But only for the shareholders of realestate.com.au and possibly consumers.
My problem has always been that it will be a very dangerous future for agents if there was only one company you could advertise both online and in the press. This is not the case now, but realestate.com.au are on the threshold of this power.
History has shown every single time, that if you have a monopoly you can control the money flow (spend) of your market.
It will be years before we will see how this all pans out, Simon Baker is not happy being the king of real estate online in Australia, he wants the press too, after all it is the bigger market – a market that is just shy of 1 Billion Dollars annually.
Yes Agents….that is the money you all spend together each year advertising and marketing properties in all forms.
So the guide is good for realestate.com.au, good for consumers, but I think it stinks for agents. I am not sure of the costings but agents should understand that they are paying to promote realestate.com.au.
Note: I was told some types of listings were FREE by a realestate.com.au employee, but I do not know which types and the conditions of the FREE listings.
At the end of the day it is the Vendors + consumers that decide where agents spend their hard earned money and if this takes off, you will be spending it here.
All in all it is a very good example of how to get a magazine right, it is not perfect, but it is the perfect strategy. Simon Baker will have a tough time making it a success, but I think it could be very successful in selected markets. Realestate.com.au are going up against some serious competitors and some of these live on agents revenues (such as the FPC Courier Group) and they will not lie down. It is up to Fairfax and to a lesser extent the dormant Rural Press to hit back before it is too late.