Realtor.com operator Move Inc. sent its real estate customers about 50 percent more consumer leads in the year ending June 30 as it did the year before, the publicly-traded company said in a regulatory filing today.
Move reported second quarter revenue was up 17 percent from a year ago to $57.5 million — the biggest quarterly year-over-year growth since 2006 and the seventh straight quarter of quarter-to-quarter growth.
Consumer advertising products accounted for 78 percent, or $44.6 million, of that revenue, rising 8 percent year over year.
That rise was mainly due to increases in listing ads on realtor.com and the company’s “Connection for Co-Brokers” product, which saw revenue rise 134 percent year over year and 24 percent quarter to quarter, as well as from Move’s October 2012 acquisition of Relocation.com.
The revenue jump was partially offset by revenue declines from Move’s featured products, including Featured Homes, Featured Area Community and Buyer Assist, the company said.
Move’s media revenue also grew, rising 39 percent on an annual basis and 31 percent on a quarterly basis.
Revenue from the company’s software and services products — Top Producer, TigerLead, and ListHub — represented 22 percent of the company’s overall revenues in the three months through June and stood at $12.9 million last quarter, rising 57 percent on an annual basis. The jump was largely due to increased revenues from TigerLead and ListHub, partially offset by a decrease in revenues from Top Producer, the company said.
Move has long claimed that its audience is more “transaction ready” than that of its competitors.
“Transaction ready audiences generate more leads and higher quality leads. Our business practices strive to keep a one-to-one relationship between a consumer and a real-estate professional. One lead off a listing gets sent to only one agent, generating very high quality leads and driving the potential conversion rate up by as much as 300 percent,” said Move CEO Steve Berkowitz in an earnings call yesterday.
“Sending the same consumer lead to multiple agents at the same time can drive up short-term publisher revenues but can significantly lower the (return on investment) for the agent as the same consumer gets multiple responses from the same inquiry.
“Since our goal in our (software and services) business is to make agents more productive, sending the same consumer lead to multiple agents is in direct competition with the value proposition of raising conversion rates, and, by the way, it’s not a great consumer experience either.”
Move Chief Financial Officer Rachel Glaser said the company’s Showcase product has continued to perform well and retains more than 90 percent of its customers.
“Showcase leads have increased 40 percent year-over-year and effective cost per lead has decreased over 35 percent in the same time period, indicating a marked improvement on ROI for Showcase customers,” Glaser said in the earnings call.
Nonetheless, Showcase revenue fell 10 percent last quarter, primarily due to historically low listing counts, she said.
“Showcase is priced on historical listing count basis at trailing 12-month metric that is a proxy for Realtors’ book of business,” Glaser said.
“The good news is, we expect Showcase revenue to rebound. Historical listing count in the quarter was 6.5 million up … 2 percent year over year and up 4 percent versus prior quarter. We expect to see a gradual but continued upward trend in listing counts, which coupled with a higher velocity of days on market, shows clear evidence of the ongoing rebound in the housing market.”
Move will also be rolling out new Showcase rates next week that will take into account factors such as home prices and market characteristics.
“The net effect is to optimize ROI for customers overall and generate a net revenue gain to our company on a perspective 12-month basis,” Glaser said.
“The new pricing has been captured in our guidance for the year and we expect the changes to have a positive impact to revenue over the next 12 to 24 months as contracts are renewed at increasing high listing counts and to the adjusted rates.”
Berkowitz said Move is “the No. 1 one leader” in generating moving leads for moving companies on the Web and will soon invest in rental leads, particularly those from buildings with between two and 20 units, which had not been allowed before Move and the National Association of Realtors modified the realtor.com operating agreement last week.
“I think the last area that we haven’t touched yet — and we’re not ready to discuss — is what potentially we may do in the home improvement category,” Berkowitz said.
Move boosted its sales and marketing spend by 14 percent year over year last quarter, to $21 million, mainly due to increased investment in the company’s marketing department and a rebranding of realtor.com, the company said. Move expects to continue to incur higher year-over-year marketing costs through 2013.
Berkowitz said Move was “in test mode” as far as its spending on marketing.
“We’re continuing to look at ways to take advantage of the increased interest in our brand,” he said.
“So, we’ll be continuing to look at different ways to test marketing and so, in the second half of the year, in Q3 … we’re seeing a little bit more spending but … you won’t see much in Q4 and that’s the current plan.”
Berkowitz said Move hopes to increase the “mind share” of the consumer around realtor.com’s quality and accuracy, but doesn’t see that requiring “an incredible spend.”
He expects the company’s “better alignment” with NAR to be a boon to the company’s marketing efforts.
“I don’t know how people can match any kinds of spend that happens when you have 1 million professionals on the street who have your brand on their business cards,” Berkowitz said.
“So, I feel like we have inherent advantage in marketing, i.e. the fact that we have a brand that’s being represented by so many people on the street and that we co-exist together.”
Ian Corydon, a senior analyst and director of research at investment bank B. Riley & Co., noted that Move rival Zillow has ramped up its spending on marketing recently, and another competitor, Trulia, does not plan a similar ramp-up.
Although Move investors had been concerned about a possible “war of marketing spend” with Zillow, Move’s past growth initiatives have paid off and its growth potential remains substantial, Corydon said.
“Given (the second quarter’s) successes, we give management the benefit of the doubt that judicious incremental marketing expenses can pay off,” he said.