Marketing

Homes.com retools ads for buyer’s agents

'Three-headed monster' ads also route inquiries to listing agent

Homes.com is getting its own version of the “three headed monster,” launching “Local Connect” advertising that offers buyer’s agents the ability to geotarget consumers searching for homes by ZIP code using ads prominently displayed on listing detail pages.

The ads — contact forms that list buyer’s agents directly below the listing agent — provide branding including a photo or logo, a phone number with click-to-call capabilities from mobile devices, and consumer endorsements. The leads generated by the forms are sent to not only to advertisers but to the listing agent or broker.

Example of Homes.com's "Local Connect" ad.
Example of Homes.com’s “Local Connect” ad.

Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com all depend on turning homebuyers’ inquiries into “leads” that they can sell to buyer’s agents.

Some listing brokers object to ads for competitors’ agents appearing alongside listings they represent, dubbing them the “three headed monster” because the pictures and contact information of up to three agent advertisers appear in a box where consumers can submit requests for more information about a listing.

Franchisors, listing brokers and agents can prevent ads and lead forms for buyer’s agents from appearing next to their listings by paying to “enhance” their listings with their branding.

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The lead forms that appear on unenhanced realtor.com listings don’t display the names and photos of agents who pay to receive leads. Until now, Dominion Enterprises-owned Homes.com had employed a similar system, running unbranded lead forms that routed inquiries to an anonymous agent advertiser, and also the listing agent or broker.

Homes.com’s new “Local Connect” ads don’t appear if the listing broker or agent is a Homes.com advertiser with preferred display. When the ads do appear next to listings, inquiries are always routed to the listing agent or broker — consumers cannot “opt out.”

“Our new advertising product is the result of extensive discussions with agents, brokers, MLSs and industry partners to find the best way to connect engaged consumers with buyer’s agents as they search for their next home,” said Homes.com President David Mele in a statement. “Homes.com Local Connect clearly displays the listing agent at the top of every lead form and ensures that consumer leads are always routed back to the listing agent or broker, regardless of whether the listing is displayed for free or through paid advertising.”