NEW ORLEANS — Realtors who are accustomed to generating leads by placing ads on property search portals may soon be surprised to find that they themselves are being targeted by advertisers when they log onto their multiple listing service.
Whether they be title insurers, homebuilders, or big-box home improvement stores like Home Depot, advertisers who want to reach Realtors are willing to pay a premium for ads that target them exclusively, said Joel Cohen, president of Tampa, Fla.-based IMAPP Inc.
IMAPP can reach Realtors because it’s providing property tax roll data and parcel mapping to MLSs serving 120,000 Realtors, Cohen said. MLSs that agree to work with IMAPP to serve up ads to their subscribers earn 30 percent of the gross revenue generated by the ads.
Targeted Web ads already command a premium, Cohen said, with advertisers paying $2 to $5 for 1,000 "impressions," or Web page views.
IMAPP’s ability to target ads even more precisely — using search criteria including a property price, type, location and zoning — means advertisers are willing to pay $35 to $55 per 1,000 impressions, he said.
Speaking to Realtor association and MLS executives during an annual National Association of Realtors conference, Cohen said IMAPP has already signed up 95 percent of the MLSs it works with, and is either delivering ads to their subscribers or soon will be.
During an initial "soft launch" period, subscribers will see "in house" ads from the MLSs themselves, publicizing news and events.
After that, subscribers may see ads from a variety of advertisers, ranging from mortgage lenders and title companies to movers, home warranty firms, home inspectors and cellular phone providers.
"By targeting your message to the Realtor, you gain an important partner in your marketing," iMapp says in a pitch to advertisers. "The Realtor provides influence to all aspects of the transaction, including which products and services are selected."
The company "delivers your message before the client has selected the property and before they have selected the products and services required for the transaction."
Cohen showed ads by homebuilders, including one that was seeking to place ads in front of Realtors representing clients working with buyers and sellers of large lots.
Other advertisers want their ads to appear more often.
Home Depot, Cohen said, was particularly interested in the ability to get ads in front of Realtors, because NAR’s exclusive agreement with Lowes had locked the company out of NAR-sponsored events.
Participating MLSs include Arizona Regional MLS Inc. (ARMLS), the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale (RAGFL), Miami Realtors, Central Virginia Regional Multiple Listing Service (CVRMLS) and My Florida Regional MLS.
According to an analysis by the consulting firm WAV Group commissioned by the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS), MLSs with 30,000 or more members could earn $30,000 to $60,000 a month in ad revenue, while those with fewer than 1,000 members might earn $2,500 to $4,000 a month.
The WAV Group report examined several opportunities for MLSs to generate revenue or provide additional services to members by licensing data to third parties including the National Association of Realtors’ Realtors Property Resource (RPR) LLC, CoreLogic, and Realtor.com operator Move Inc.
Cohen said iMapp is not pursuing its own plans to license listings data in order to provide an "IDX hybrid" product to non-Realtors, due to resistance from MLSs.
RPR has made much of the fact that the listings data it licenses from MLSs — including sold and off-market data — is only available to Realtors (RPR’s business model depends on selling analytical data — including "Realtor Valuation Model" automated valuations — to lenders and government agencies).
RPR President Marty Frame, in updating association and MLS executives on RPR’s progress, said that CoreLogic is marketing analytical reports at Yahoo Real Estate, a consumer real estate site, and those reports appear to include listings data.
"We were wondering how they got there, and you should too, we think," Frame said, addressing association and MLS executives.
Frame suggested that many MLSs may have signed away their rights to license listings to anyone other than CoreLogic without realizing it, displaying language from a subscriber agreement for CoreLogic’s MLS technology platform, Realist, that grants CoreLogic exclusive rights.
Jon Green, vice president of real estate services for CoreLogic, acknowledged that the RealQuest Express reports marketed on Yahoo Real Estate appear to aggregate listings data, but said the reports are aimed at "hardcore investors" and have not been popular with consumers.
"Frankly, that product does not have any traction in the marketplace," Green said.
CoreLogic, he said, is currently licensing listings data from 19 MLSs through its Info Net program. Those MLSs represent 125,000 agents and 450,000 active listing.
More than half of those licensing agreements are exclusive, Green said, and another 39 MLSs with 700,000 listings are evaluating participation in the InfoNet program.
He said CoreLogic uses the listings data to provide risk analysis tools for lenders, loan servicers and capital markets, and does not allow it to be used on consumer-facing sites or to solicit agents, brokers or consumers.
Frame said MLSs with 200,000 Realtors in 40 markets are now using RPR, NAR’s parcel-based property database, and that more MLSs representing an additional 275,000 members are expected to be live by the end of the year.
Realtor.com operator Move Inc. also provided an update on its "Find" search tool, which Curt Beardsley, vice president for product marketing, said is now in use by MLSs representing 17,500 members.
The Find search tool is in the process of being activated at additional MLSs representing 55,000 members, Beardsley said, and MLSs representing 161,500 additional members have signed up for use of the tool.
As is the case with RPR, MLSs that license sold and historical listing data to Move receive additional tools for members rather than a revenue share.