A new way to count traffic, but No. 1 still means No. 1

2 minute read

If realestate.com.au were to report having more than 6,500 users per month, and then started reporting that –actually– they only had about 2,700 users, you might think they had been lying the first time around.

Well, realestate.com.au is in just that position right now. But, they weren’t lying.

The old, larger number refers to “unique browsers”, the old standard for measuring web traffic. The new, smaller number refers to “unique audience”, and is supposed to measure the actual number of people (not web browsers) visiting the website.

Both numbers count the same people, doing the same things, but they count in different ways.

The new system is more precise and useful than the old system. There are problems, of course, like the fact that the new “unique audience” doesn’t yet count mobile users or international users. Even so, it represents real innovation by the people at Nielsen, who created it. (Here’s a shout out to my old buddy Matt Bruce over at Nielsen.)

For example, as of June 2011, the old method counted almost 120 million unique browsers per month in Australia. That is great, but only about 15 million Australians are actually online. According to the new data, each Australian who uses the internet sees 2,772 web pages in a month, goes online 69 times and spends nearly 69 hours there. (It’s nice that I finally found something in which I can be above average!)

Now here’s the paragraph you have all been waiting for. Robert Simeon, I write this especially for you, with a smile. The new system gives realestate.com.au almost exactly the same relative dominance over domain as the old system did. In the old system, realestate.com.au had 1.8 times more unique browsers than domain.com.au. In the new system, it has 1.6 times more unique audience.

I used to work at realestate.com.au. You can probably tell that I’m still proud of them.

Anyone who finds this topic fascinating should, first, see a shrink. After that, if you’re still not cured, you can read more at the following links:



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  • Tatiana Mijalica
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 11:53 am 0Likes

    Well this is looking to be the most commented blog post on B2 for 2011 for sure LOL!!!

  • Dave Platter
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 11:55 am 0Likes

    Thanks, Tatiana. I’m sure it will get some reaction. I hope it’s fair and accurate, but I know everyone has their own perspective.

  • Business Trader
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm 0Likes

    I would like to hear from someone at Domain. Not that we don’t believe your stats, but without seeing proof it is just ‘hear say’.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm 0Likes


    The problem I have had with REA’s stats is that they have not reported it as Unique Browsers but as “Property Seekers”.

    Using the word property seekers to represent UB’s was misleading. Property Seekers denotes a person or individual which a UB certainly is not.

    Discussions with an REA staff member revealed that they used this term to “dumb down” that statistic because most people do not understand what UB means. Dumbing down technical information for a non technical audience is fine if the essence of the statistic remains the same which IMHO changing UB’s to “property seekers” was not.

    REA are not the only one to use this term. The change to audience will be a far more correct fit for the “property seeker” label and provide better clarity for agents and the public alike.

  • Dave Platter
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm 0Likes

    Glenn, I agree with you. One should not say “property seeker” when one means “UB”.

    I hope that Nielsen’s new “unique audience” measure will make such obfuscations (intentional or not) a thing of the past.

    You are 100% right on this one.

  • Dave Platter
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm 0Likes

    Business Trader, I understand where you’re coming from. As they used to say in the arms reductions talks, trust but verify.

    However, these are not numbers from REA, they are numbers from Nielsen, who gets paid by all the bigger portals –including Domain– to give an impartial ranking.

    It’s true, Nielsen reported them to the portals, and then REA reported them to us, so we have to take REA’s word for what the data say. However, I think you can assume that since neither Neilsen nor Domain nor any other portal has called REA out, they have reported them accurately.

  • Tatiana Mijalica
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 2:31 pm 0Likes

    Dave what were Domains numbers reported to be before this Neilsen change?

  • Dave Platter
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm 0Likes

    Domain had 3,579,000 UBs in Sept. REA: 6,568 UBs.

    In Unique Audience, it was 1,646,000 for Domain, and 2,693,000 for REA.

    That’s according to the explanatory presentation REA put out. It’s the last of the three links I provided at the bottom of my post.

  • Tatiana Mijalica
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm 0Likes

    The number discrepancies are really high when you compare one to the other.
    DOM launched their app first so you would think they would loose out on international and big mobile traffic numbers as well.
    Yet DOM numbers were inflated by 2.1 times and REA by 2.5 times.

    And this:

    NOR does not include non-standard events – for realestate.com.au, photo views, a core function within the site, are not included as page views. The technology behind photo views on site are in line with the advancement for consumer experience and used by global leaders such as Google and Linkedin.

    What the? Are they saying here that photo views were previously counted as page views? And what exact photo views happen on LinkedIn and in Google search results? I’m confused:(

    Could someone from REA give some clarification please.

  • Tatiana Mijalica
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm 0Likes

    Sorry peeps – but numbers and data always excite me lol

  • Charlie
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm 0Likes

    The reason the UB had to go was in that in the last couple years monthly recorded UBs, as measured by Nielsen, had tripled in Australia – but internet use, and populaton, certainly hadn’t.

    It was the proliferation of devices that people were using that had tripled (smartphones, iPads and the like), each one registering yet another UB when it was often the same person.

    So, well done Nielsen in getting a fairer measure – we’ll how that pans out. As you know, all stats can be made to sing!

  • Dave Platter
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 4:08 pm 0Likes

    Well said, Charlie.

  • Dave Platter
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm 0Likes

    Tatiana, regarding int’l traffic, I don’t know what domain’s stat is, but REA reports “9% of realestate.com.au traffic is international” (in September 2011).

    The new “unique audience” measure doesn’t count it yet. 10% is a big loss.

    I wonder what domain’s int’l count is?

  • Bob
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 9:25 am 0Likes

    lots of changes on realestate.com and domain and you guys never talk about it, wonder why???

  • Dave Platter
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 9:29 am 0Likes

    What can I say, Bob. We’re volunteers and you know what volunteers are like. They do great things, but sometimes can’t be relied on.

    Why don’t you post your thoughts in a comment? I’d love to hear.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 10:56 am 0Likes


    What changes specifically are you referring to.? REA and Domain are always doing minor changes and I doubt too many people would be happy with article after article discussing little tweaks they both do. Most major changes, revamps or smaller changes that have bigger consequences for our industry do get reported on.

    Saying that, it is certainly possible we have missed something of real importance. The contributors are not an organised team like a pack of journalists working for a news outlet.

    As Dave mentioned please share your thoughts in the comments section here, or even better submit an article as a guest contributor.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 11:46 am 0Likes

    G’day Dave

    I have no problems with these numbers as I have always been more interested in quality not quantity. My argument is that Domain produce (in our case) approximately a 10:1 email lead generation over REA and I hear that this is about the same in the Eastern Suburbs.

    So REA has property seekers that like to look and not touch. Whereas Domain has UBs that like not only like to look but touch their respective keypads as well and connect with the relevant agents.

    You can study hard however that does mean that you will pass the test. 🙂

  • Dave Platter
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 11:54 am 0Likes

    Hi, Robert! I was hoping you’d post a comment on this. I’m glad you did.

    I disagree with you on one thing. The higher leads domain produces for you may not be because all REA users don’t touch.

    It may be because domain’s users are almost all concentrated in your area and the eastern suburbs, which are the areas they dominate.

    REA just dominates in most other places. You’ve said the same to me at least one.

    By the way, your office’s listing at 25 Shellbank Avenue looks great.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm 0Likes


    It is always a pleasure to do the real estate rhetoric dance with you. I agree with you 100% although the point I have been making all along is yes Domain, has grabbed enormous market share from REA is these niche markets – to an extent now that it is embarrassing when comparing the two.

    REA has allowed Domain to court and move these Property Seekers to now use Domain as their preferred property portal. That is the point I have been making for the last seven years that they are going backwards in these markets not forward.

  • Peter Lister
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 6:23 pm 0Likes

    Robert Simeon: We meet again……
    I have the exactly the same email enquiry rate as you do and I thought along the same lines as you. Until my administrator that responds to all the email broke it down for me.
    Domain doesn’t list the property inspection times on the site and 99.99% of the email from domain where when is the inspection times. Great because you get the “property seekers” details.
    REA displays them on the site and the “property seekers” have less reason to email.
    please respond if you have the same.
    REA for me is a far superior site and deserving of the number one spot UBs or UAs. The site is just better to be on. But i won’t be telling REA that.

  • Peter Lister
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 6:26 pm 0Likes

    just check on domain for the first time in a long time and they do now. But they didn’t

  • Matt
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 12:48 am 0Likes

    Peter Lister,

    You might want to break it down to your administration that Domain have been listing inspection times for well over a year, from memory. May I ask why you see REA as being “far superior”? If Domain are, by your own account, dominant in your area, then how does the lesser of the two earn your praise as being superior? Just curious, because at a glance, that seems simply biased.


  • Tatiana Mijalica
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 8:21 am 0Likes

    Both portals have definitely had open for inspections on their listings since 2000/2001.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted December 10, 2011 at 1:22 am 0Likes

    Hi Bob? Conspiracy Theory? Not sure what your angle is, but I think you will find we discuss many updates on all major portals here!

  • MAC
    Posted December 11, 2011 at 10:54 pm 0Likes

    Fiddling around with figures when the main game will shift to deportalisation. Twitter has 100Million users per month. I also understand Google is the search mechanism of choice by real estate purchasers. Robert Simeon and his ilk will continue to leave competitors clinging to Grandma’s apron in their wake.

  • Dave Platter
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 9:56 am 0Likes

    Mac, you’re right about the shift to social media and mobile. But I see old-fashioned search more as the receding past than the the looming future.

    Search still works, but as you pointed out the real growth is in social media, and you seldom use Google to search Facebook or Twitter.

    Despite that, Google is still very important. In the same way, whatever happens in the future, the portals are still very important. I reckon realestate.com.au has many years ahead of it as the single most important player in the real estate industry. Do you think?

    As for Robert, hats off to him. He’s doing great things with his site and his content strategy. Anyone interested should check out his site: http://www.rwm.com.au/

  • MAC
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 10:33 am 0Likes

    Dave, I don’t see Fbook beating the RE portals. FBook is way too uncoordinated for the core of systematic market searching. (Which is the natural way to approach buying real estate). I think ‘Social’ has the capacity to push RE portals sideways (& so decrease their pricing!!!!) Portals may still be a listing hub for a little while but their ‘display’ revenue must take a hit.
    Fbook is now just a mess of information splattered everywhere for most users who are still using just a couple of basic functions. This has opened other ‘Social’ opportunities.

  • Dave Platter
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 10:41 am 0Likes

    Great thoughts, MAC. Hey, have you seen Agentpoint’s Facebook app? What do you think of that? I’m curious as to what other people think of it.

    I know the guys who operate business2 are too polite to push it in a blog post of their own, but being a third party, I don’t feel shy to bring it up.


  • MAC
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 10:58 am 0Likes

    Yes have seen it. And certainly very good for what it is. (These guys are right onto multi-distribution for agents).
    However, have you tried searching for real estate on Fbook? A thousand ‘apps’ for doing it and FBook has even acknowledged and validated the existing search paradigm by introducing its own RE search. The problem is that it ends-up becoming yet another portal that requires agents to upload to it (via Peter’s ZOO ? 🙂
    Who do you know who has gone to an agent’s Fbook page to search for property? 1. Google 2. RE.com.au 3. Domain 4. A few agency pages e.g. Rob Simeon 5. Take yr pick & FBook
    So, back where we started. The model is still clunky but because of its reach and cancer-like structure, I think there is an opportunity for ‘Social’ to ‘de-portalize’ and help escape from the vice-like grip of the ‘old-World’ 🙂

  • Dave Platter
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 11:07 am 0Likes

    MAC, I’m in love with your mind.

    How about this: agents should use Facebook for building relationships and community, rather than replicating their websites. Then, let people go to your website or a portal when they need to search for property. But, above all, don’t confuse Facebook with a real estate search site, and don’t expect to do the same things on both, or to have consumers do the same things on both.

    What do you think?

  • MAC
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 11:23 am 0Likes

    Sure, Dave. But I even wonder at the value of FBook for relationship building. The key is to communicate DIRECTLY eith each ‘friend/susbcriber’, otherwise yr just part of the ‘stream’. That’s better than nothing. But getting back to our original discussion. Yes, I see the portals as a phone directory of listings and just as boring. The agent’s ‘Home’ website/repository should hold the power (talk to me Hubonline, MyDeskTop & Onthehouse 🙂 with information just dragged-out from wherever it is ‘discovered’. And so you can see how social can work here. And there is a social mechanism that can then ‘deportalise’ and in the process, cripple the portals. Want to stump-up some $ ? 🙂

  • Dave Platter
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 11:39 am 0Likes

    I have got 5 bucks! 🙂

    I see what you mean about the agent site. Make it the centre-piece of their online strategy, like Robert Simeon, as you pointed out.

    Even those that do that successfully, should have a social media effort, too, because their customers are already on social media and you have to be where your customers are.

    Great comments MAC.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm 0Likes

    It is matter of just ticking all the boxes 1. The agents own website 2. Property Portals 3. Social Media (Facebook and Twitter. The problem as I see it is that agents downplay their own websites and use the hope factor of total reliance on the property portals.

    The vast majority of agents don’t even have an online strategy – so it should come as little surprise. The “I told – you so” day is getting closer and closer. One only has to look at the latest smart phones to see that most real estate businesses are NOT smartphone compliant so they are costing themselves as consumers just turn – off those businesses given they are no long relevant in this day and age.

  • Dave Platter
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm 0Likes

    Right on, Robert.

  • MAC
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 1:47 pm 0Likes

    Yes, Robert. And how about a portal like a phone directory that lets buyers search for matching properties that link back to your website listing(s)? Pretty basic stuff but it keep buyers happy AND places agents back in control of their info and they receive ALL enquiry *DIRECTLY*!!! Good-bye massive portal costs – ‘Deportalisation’! (ZOO, Hubonlne et al mightn’t be too happy either as less distribution costs).

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm 0Likes

    MAC – good point however any moves by the portals to make themselves more irrelevant simply just won’t happen.

    In fairness the onus falls entirely on the individual agency to get their own online platforms firing on all cylinders. The successful agencies are stringently sticking to proven and tested online strategies where their very own online platform should be their number one priority.

    What the property portals are doing is secondary – back up position.

    Take control of what you can control – not rely on what an outside party controls.

  • Peter S
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:43 am 0Likes

    Well with these new reporting stats, it is going to make it a lot harder for REA to be able to justify increasing agent subscription fees to http://www.realestate.com.au by 400% more than the annual CPI.

    My subscription fees have increased by more than 15% per annum meaning they have increased by more than 40% since I first subscribed 3 years ago – not a bad increase in income for REA without lifting a finger and increasing their subscription numbers. Their “excuse” for the increase was that there were more “property seekers” viewing properties. It was always a con and will continue to be. If I am paying 40% more than 3 years ago, as a reasonable person I should not only expect a better service than 3 years ago, but also an increase in my income relative to that better service.

    I suspect there will be some scrambling at REA now. Perhaps John McGrath saw the writing on the wall and thought it was a good time to bail out of his substantial share-holding in REA 2 years ago!

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