Ever noticed that ads sometimes follow you around the Internet?

A new ad platform, AdWerx, allows real estate agents to create ads that do just that: Target potential clients in certain locations by their online browsing behavior and feed them clickable display ads that show up on sites they visit like the Los Angeles Times, Zillow, Trulia and many others.

AdWerx buys access to databases of consumers who, through Internet behavior like searching for homes online or looking at mortgage sites, reveal that they might be looking to move. The company uses that information to put a clickable display ad with agents’ branding or listings in front of prospective buyers, said Jed Carlson, co-founder and president of ReverbNation, the company behind AdWerx.

In the marketing world, this online targeting strategy is called “remarketing.” Advertisers used to buy space in newspapers, Carlson said. With the proliferation of ad tracking data, “Now you buy audience,” he said. 

Jed Carlson

Jed Carlson

ReverbNation, which Carlson co-founded seven years ago, started out as a place for bands to connect with their fans. Three years ago, it started creating a product that allowed bands to target their listeners, or potential fans, on music-streaming sites like Pandora and YouTube.

AdWerx, which launched out of beta in November, is ReverbNation’s first play in another vertical, Carlson said.

AdWerx has two “remarketing” ad products for agents: one that promotes their brand and another a specific listing.

For $50 per month, agents can purchase one of five slots in a ZIP code that AdWerx guarantees will get their clickable AdWerx ad — featuring their face, branding and contact info — 10,000 views per month.

For $49 per week, AdWerx’s listing-oriented ad product targets browsers — whose online behavior indicates that they might be looking to move — who live within 15 miles of a particular home for sale and guarantees 7,000 ad views per week. AdWerx selected a 15-mile distance, Carlson said, because buyers moved a median of 12 miles from their previous residence, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

The 300-pixel-wide-by-250-pixel-tall display ads, which AdWerx helps users build with a streamlined ad creation platform, can show up on sites across the Internet that have suitable display ad slots and participate in ad exchanges, Carlson said.

Whether an AdWerx ad shows up on a particular site depends on a number of factors. These factors include whether the site has decided to place its own ad in the display ad slot at a particular moment, and whether AdWerx or another ad broker has submitted the highest bid (through complex online ad exchanges) to take that ad position at a particular moment, he said.

Currently, approximately 4,000 agents are advertising themselves on the platform in ZIP codes across the U.S., Carlson said. In addition, agents have advertised more than 1,000 listings through AdWerx’s listing product so far, he said.

U.S. map showing ZIP codes where agents have purchased AdWerx advertising. Red tags show sold-out ZIP codes; yellow tags show ZIP codes with three or four slots sold; blue tags show ZIP codes with just one slot sold.

AdWerx recently launched a partnership with Century 21 Real Estate that gives the brand’s affiliated agents a 25 percent discount on AdWerx products when they purchase the product through the Century 21 AdWerx site. The partnership also ensures that Century 21 branding appears in AdWerx ads, Carlson said.

Screen shot of Century 21 Real Estate's AdWerx site.

Screen shot of Century 21 Real Estate’s AdWerx site.

When an agent first signs up for the agent-branding product, AdWerx uses its database — which Carlson says includes information about most of the agents in the U.S. — to help the agent create the display ad that AdWerx will distribute across the Internet.

The ad creation platform automatically pulls in the agent’s name, tagline, his or her brokerage’s logo, phone number, city and branding color scheme. All items can be customized by the agent, but, Carlson says, 80 to 85 percent of agents who use the platform make no change to the system-generated ad.

Agents then enter the website they’d like the ad to click through to and select the ZIP codes they’d like to advertise in.

Just five slots are available in each ZIP code, Carlson said. The firm estimates that most ZIP codes average about 10,000 people, giving AdWerx confidence that it can serve up 50,000 ad impressions per ZIP, per month.

Agents can purchase multiple slots in each ZIP code — if they’re available — on three-month, six-month and 12-month terms. Six-month and 12-month terms include discounts of $5 and $10 per ZIP code slot per month, respectively.

Listing ads have been less popular than agent branding so far, Carlson said, in part because of their cost. Listing ads, which also include space for agent branding, were designed for premium homes, those proving difficult to sell, or homes with demanding seller clients. Although the ads are priced at $49 per week, discounts kick in for purchases spanning three weeks and longer.

The firm also supplies agents who advertise on the platform a daily email that provides metrics on ad performance, including the number of views generated in the previous day and the number of clicks received. Currently, the report doesn’t show the websites the ads show up on, but Carlson said AdWerx is looking into adding that info.

Agents using AdWerx for the first time can cancel their term at any point and receive a prorated refund of their purchase, Carlson said.

Though AdWerx is designed specifically for individual agents at the moment, ReverbNation is looking at building a broker-focused product, Carlson said. Brokers can already use the platform to create display ads that promote their brand.

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