Zillow CEO: Keep buying ad impressions, we’ll make more

Mad Money’s Jim Cramer says he’s worried that Zillow has signed up a lot of agents — could the portal run out of ad inventory? Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff says the site’s got close to 57,000 paying subscribers (that’s a 46 percent jump from last year), but traffic’s also growing by leaps and bounds — the property search portal attracted 89 million unique users last month. Mobile traffic is up by a factor of 10 in the last three years.

“So as traffic grows, there are more impressions available to sell, so we have lots of impressions available for our agents advertisers,” Rascoff tells Cramer.

Cramer’s thinking like an investor, and investors are a little skittish about Zillow’s ability to keep growing at the same incredible pace, even with a merger with Trulia in the works. Shares in Zillow closed at $138.30 today, down 2 percent for the day and 16 percent from a 52-week high of $164.90, following the release of second-quarter earnings (Revenue up 68 percent in the last year to $78.7 million! Expenses up 56 percent, to $89.4 million! Net loss: $10.5 million!).

Last year, Rascoff said agents will someday be “willing to pay up to 40 percent of their commission to the channel that provides them with a customer.” He also says that does not mean that Zillow intends to charge what amounts to a referral fee. This week, he told investment analysts that Zillow has a “deliberate and unstated strategy” to target top producing agents as advertisers — like a Parsipanny, New Jersey, agent who Rascoff told Cramer “was thanking me for how much money we’ve helped him make” at a Zillow Premier Agent summit.

Parsipanny “means Realogy to me,” Cramer said, marveling at how “brokers who were initially reluctant to use Zillow are now all in.”

Realogy’s brokerage arm, NRT LLC, is planning to build two new websites that it hopes will help it generate a few more leads on its own — especially highly qualified “referral leads” it can charge agents 35 percent of their commission for —  reducing its reliance on Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com. Source: cnbc.com.


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