Editor’s note: Now that real estate brokers are spending more money on online marketing and advertising to drum up new business, they want to know — in a very detailed way — how much bang they’re getting for their buck. In this three-part series, we examine a few technologies offering insight into return on investment.

Editor’s note: Now that real estate brokers are spending more money on online marketing and advertising to drum up new business, they want to know — in a very detailed way — how much bang they’re getting for their buck. In this three-part series, we examine a few technologies offering insight into return on investment. (See Part 1: Brokers get inside track on Web lead investments and Part 2: Web analytics put online marketing dollars to the test.)

At YourHub.com, a community journalism site owned by the Denver Newspaper Agency, visitors can start neighborhood blogs and upload photos and stories about their communities – and Denver real estate agents can target 42 specific neighborhoods with their ads.

The Denver site, which has 13,000 registered visitors and gets more than 400,000 page views a month, is an example of the technology Colorado-based Indigio offers newspapers to help them increase their online real estate revenue.

Nearly 40 percent of the ads on the Denver YourHub.com site are from new advertisers, many of whom are real estate agents, company sources said.

“Someone who is moving to a community can get a crime report or a school report, but with YourHub.com we are looking to collect stories people are writing about their community, their high school, their politicians, and integrate that content with the real estate platforms,” explained Tim Higgins, CEO of Indigio, which provided the technology for YourHub.

YourHub.com began with Denver and now encompasses communities in states including Colorado, Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina.

“Integrating content about the community helps agents get more qualified buyers,” Higgins said.

When readers visit YourHub.com sites, they will see ads for agents in those neighborhoods, Higgins said.

“You can also search for homes in that community. You will see homes for sale in that community, agents in the community and that community’s focus and interest all in the same place,” Higgins said.

The Denver Newspaper Agency’s vice president of interactive said the program has gotten positive feedback from advertisers.

“This (YourHub) helps us target new advertisers because our reach is based on zoned communities versus the entire metropolitan area,” said Fran Wills, vice president of interactive at the agency. “Given that real estate is so local, individual agents can focus on their own areas.”

With regard to analytics on YourHub.com, Wills said, “All the ads are delivered through DoubleClick. We have the same analytics function we have on our core site and can tally the number of page views and numbers of clicks on ads.”

Wills said a lot of the advertisers now participating in YourHub couldn’t afford to advertise in the company’s “core product” – the print newspapers the agency publishes, which include the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post.

“The role of agents with buyers and sellers is changing with the Internet over the last three years,” said Higgins. “Our counsel to agents is, ‘Your ability to be found has to be targeted to the new buyer and seller process. Instead of a generic yellow page or similar advertisement, have your ad tied to search results or integrated with comparable market analysis offers.'”

His company sells its real estate platform to newspapers and works with the newspapers to counsel agent advertisers on how to best use the platforms, Higgins said.

Indigio has an analytics department that looks at the statistics of who is coming to the site, what tasks they are undertaking, which buttons they click and which actions they are likely to take. “We have a profile on how users typically move through the real estate process on our platform and we also have statistics for our clients on how the advertisers can generate the best results,” Higgins said.

The real estate platform offers a search engine, much like a mini-Google that applies only to the site. As with Google, agents can buy sponsored advertising that shows up with the search results.

“When a user searches for homes in the $300,000 to $400,000 range in Bloomfield, Colorado, your ad will show up with those sites,” said Higgins.

The company offers registration on the real estate platforms, “and we can go back to advertisers and say, ‘These are the characteristics of the people who visit your site,'” Higgins said.

Age, location, income range and gender are the characteristics collected.

“Gender is very important. Typically women do the majority of the initial searching for real estate, and statistically, women make the decision as to which agent a couple will use,” Higgins said.

The platforms offer comparative market analysis, or CMAs, to sellers, and agents can sponsor those results as well, Higgins said.

“We have built into the platform the ability to work with local government to get market analysis data on closed home sales. We then present that as CMA results,” the CEO said.

Home buyers who use the site can save property they are interested in to a dashboard connected with their profile, Higgins said.

If a seller looks for homes in Arcata, Calif., an ad for an agent selling homes in that city will be returned with the results, Higgins said.

“There is a button that says ‘Would you like to see these homes?’ and then asks the specific times, are you qualified for a mortgage, are you likely to buy in three to six months,” Higgins said.

The CEO said, “It is a lead generation service and also a lead qualification service. The real estate platform does all that work so the agent gets a qualified buyer.”

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to janis@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 140.

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