The National Association of Realtors may no longer hold an ownership stake in realtor.com operator Move Inc. or have a seat on the company’s board of directors, but the trade group appears to be committed to promoting the realtor.com brand.
NAR aired a 33-second TV ad during the Grammy Awards on Sunday on CBS promoting both Realtors and its official consumer website, realtor.com.
NAR began deeply integrating realtor.com into its national consumer marketing with the launch of its $35 million “Real People” campaign last July, which also marked the first time the trade association had coordinated its consumer messaging so tightly with realtor.com and Move.
Then, last fall, News Corp. announced its intention to acquire Move for $950 million — a deal that could only go forward with NAR’s blessing.
Move spent an estimated $25 million on its realtor.com national marketing campaign last year, which was aided by an additional $25 million in estimated exposure thanks to NAR’s “Real People” campaign, which ties realtor.com and the Realtor brand together.
NAR will continue to promote realtor.com along with the value of homeownership and the Realtor brand in its consumer advertising “for the foreseeable future,” NAR spokeswoman Sara Wiskerchen told Inman.
Execs at News Corp. have said they plan to tout realtor.com to the masses with a consumer marketing campaign after polishing up realtor.com’s messaging and products for prime-time viewing. Apparently, they’ll also continue to get a boost from NAR’s campaign.
And why not? NAR’s ownership stake in Move was small (it owned less than 2 percent of Move’s common stock), and the association’s seat on Move’s board of directors was probably less important in determining how realtor.com is run than the language found in the realtor.com operating agreement, which remains in effect.
The agreement dates to 1996, when NAR granted Move the exclusive right to operate realtor.com, a license to use the realtor.com domain name and trademark, and a license to use the Realtors trademark in exchange for minimum annual royalty payments that exceeded $4 million last year.
The new ad is 2015’s first whiff of the real estate consumer marketing battle that soared to stratospheric heights last year when Zillow, Trulia and Move spent an estimated $145 million combined on national marketing campaigns.
Unlike last year, when Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com all spent wildly for consumer exposure, 2015 will likely be a two-horse race up the consumer marketing mountain (with NAR adding a boost to realtor.com). Zillow is expected to complete its acquisition of Trulia any day now.
Zillow and Trulia, which spent approximately $75 million and $45 million, respectively, on their consumer campaigns in 2014, will likely reveal their consumer marketing budgets for 2015 later this month when they discuss their 2014 earnings.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from NAR.