Our phones have been ringing lately with calls from brokers of mortgages, windows, cabinets and siding services — all asking how to advertise now that the real estate bubble has burst.
We say go online. A new report predicts that real estate web spending will outpace offline media by 2012. Today, about 65% of real estate advertising is spent in newsprint vs. 35% online; that will soon be a 50-50 split. Google, behavioral targeting, videos in banner, and real estate content verticals should all be in your ad mix.
The web is also a treasure trove for home targeting data. WSJ has published free maps of areas of the U.S. where home mortgage defaults will be highest, when $600 billion in U.S. adjustable rate mortgages reset at much higher rates next year. (Note, even the affluent are going to get squeezed in 2008, and this will set off hot spots of home sales churn.) Companies such as Mediassociates can provide customized analysis of ZIP Codes where home values or market churn are highest (and of course tie it to brilliant media plans). You can also find interesting heat maps at Zillow showing areas of hot home values, such as these pretty pictures of Florida.
The average home price in Florida is $212k, but by zooming in, you’ll find orange and red highlights indicating homes of higher value ranges. Plot it against your own geo target, and even a small business owner can pinpoint home-service marketing at the ZIP Code level. Isn’t it nice to find such sweet tools for free online?
There are three basic ways to advertise online: Pay-per-click search ads on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft; banner ads on brand-name sites such as iVillage and USA Today; or behavioral targeted ad networks that run your banner on hundreds of sites, but only to users who fit a specific profile. We’ve found behavioral targeted banner ads outperform regular banner ads with click-through rates 400% or 500% higher.
Still, many clients are uncomfortable with behavioral targeting, and often push media planners to take a “safe route” with a well-known site. We’ve had clients insist that iVillage.com (a very strong site, yes) is the best place to run banner ads that target women. iVillage may be the No. 1 property for women on the internet, but in a horse-race, behavioral targeted ads that match specific women profiles generate click-throughs above 0.70%, while iVillage click-throughs fall below the industry average of 0.14%. It all points out the trouble with online advertising–chasing specific sites is no longer as powerful as chasing specific consumers.
Zillow.com points to a new way for advertisers to get both the brand-name site and the targeted benefits. Zillow is launching a behavioral targeting service online within its web site–which lists 80 million home values in the U.S. and has become a popular pastime for homeowners checking out their neighborhood property values. Zillow claims it has gathered enough data to now predict when consumers are about to buy, sell, or remodel a home.
Industry analysts say this is a new class of online advertising: vertically targeted content meets behavioral targeted demographics. If it works, you can now pinpoint only the web site users that fit a very narrow profile–say, women in their 30s with young children who are about to move into a home–and put your ad within the vertical content that best matches your brand.