Real estate is not about location, location, location, but about future location, future location, future location.

That’s one of the many real estate insights Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff and Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries offer up in their 288-page book, “Zillow Talk,” which came out Jan. 27.

With the book, its play to facilitate housing policy discussions and its massive consumer ad campaign, Zillow is making a big push to make its name synonymous with “real estate” for consumers.

Winning consumers’ attention will be a key focus of the upcoming portal race between Zillow and realtor.com’s new owner News Corp., especially when Zillow completes its acquisition of Trulia. Zillow has agreed not to finalize the merger before Feb. 15, unless regulators wrap up their review before then.

Rascoff and Humphries’ book tour has generated great publicity for the company, and so has the book itself, which Zillow says is a New York Times best-seller.


Humphries and Rascoff fool around at an NPR interview about “Zillow Talk.”

Zillow’s sizable traffic lead is shrinking

Despite the book buzz, Zillow has been losing desktop Web traffic market share to realtor.com over the last three months, according to Experian Marketing Services.

Site November share of desktop traffic December share of desktop traffic January share of desktop traffic
zillow.com 21.76% 21.34% 20.46%
realtor.com 7.74% 8.03% 8.21%

Source: Experian Marketing Services

Realtor.com has narrowed the gap in desktop traffic between it and zillow.com from 14.02 percentage points in November to 12.25 percentage points in January.

Metrics from comScore, which measures the number of unique visitors from desktop and mobile devices to each firm’s network, show a similar trend. Zillow’s large traffic lead shrunk from 31.7 percentage points in October to 28.5 percentage points in December.

Network October share of real estate audience December* share of real estate audience
Zillow network 56.4% 53.6%
realtor.com network 24.7% 25.1%

Source: comScore *Most recent data available

News Corp.’s strategy for growing realtor.com traffic appears to be working

News Corp. execs have said from the time their company acquired Move Inc. that they plan to increase traffic to realtor.com by promoting the portal on the media conglomerate’s other media sites including The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.

Ads for realtor.com show up in the middle of Wall Street Journal’s online stories now, for example.

WSJ-ad
Screenshot of an inline ad for realtor.com on a Wall Street Journal story.

On News Corp.’s fiscal year 2015 second-quarter earnings call on Thursday, CEO Robert Thomson noted that the 37 million unique visitors that came to realtor.com in January represented a 30 percent increase over January 2014’s total.

News Corp. will not only cross-promote realtor.com on its other sites, but has its sights set on a large consumer marketing campaign once it has improved the user experience on realtor.com for both consumers and agents, Thomson said.

Exec stock sales

Each time execs at public firms sell company stock it gets reported to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Here’s who at the portals sold what and for how much in the two weeks since the the most recent Portal Watch to note exec stock sales, Jan. 9:

Who Company, title How many shares sold $ amount
Spencer Rascoff Zillow, CEO 5,000 $504,467
Chad Cohen Zillow, chief financial officer and treasurer 2,123 $204,890
Amy Bohutinsky Zillow, chief marketing officer 3,667 $379,974

Source: insider-monitor.com

Note: Some Zillow, Trulia and News Corp. execs are on programs to automatically sell stock they own each month at predetermined times. Stock sales do not necessarily reflect a lack in confidence by execs in their respective firms.

Errol sighting

Zillow Chief Industry Development Officer Errol Samuelson was seen roaming the hallways at Real Estate Connect NYC last week, doing casual meetings with attendees.

That’s a notable event because Samuelson — who was realtor.com’s president before jumping ship to Zillow in March — has become a  symbol of sorts in the battle between Zillow and realtor.com.

Samuelson went on leave on July 1, after being hit with a preliminary injunction that prevents him from engaging in many of the duties Zillow had hired him to perform.

Samuelson_Errol

Errol Samuelson

Zillow says that several of the provisions of the preliminary injunction lifted on Dec. 31. But Zillow wouldn’t say what, if anything, Samuelson is now able to do for the firm, or if he is still formally on leave.

The lawsuit realtor.com operator Move and the National Association of Realtors filed against Samuelson and Zillow last March is currently set to go to trial in May. But Move and NAR have filed a motion to extend the trial date to October.

Lawyers for Move and NAR says one reason for pushing back the trial date is that they are still considering whether to add former realtor.com exec Curt Beardsley (now vice president of industry relations at Zillow), and Zillow General Counsel and Chief Operations Officer Kathleen Phillips, as defendants in the suit.

Stock activity

Company Market cap* Share price* (% change from last week)
Zillow $4.14 billion $100.65 (3.8%)
Trulia $1.70 billion $44.43 (4.1%)
News Corp. $9.33 billion $15.77 (9.2%)

Source: Google Finance *As of market close on Friday, February 6, 2014

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