Marketing

Revamped apartments.com gets $100M coming-out party

CoStar ups ante in bid for rental supremacy

Commercial real estate powerhouse CoStar Group has launched an “aggressive” play to win the rental portal space in 2015 with a $100 million national multifaceted consumer marketing campaign to hype its revamped apartments.com rental site.

CoStar Group, which acquired apartments.com for $585 million last March and owns the popular commercial listing site LoopNet, said it wants to conquer the residential real estate space, a market that it sees generating $550 million in annual revenue for the firm in 10 years  (Zillow’s 2014 revenue was $325.9 million).

“We believe that apartment owners will prefer to advertise on the most heavily trafficked apartment website,” said CoStar Group founder and CEO Andrew Florance in a statement.

Apartments.com already gets a significant amount of traffic. In December, it was the sixth most popular real estate network overall, drawing 4.2 million unique visitors, according to comScore data. That made apartments.com the most popular network dedicated exclusively to rentals.

To conquer the online rental space, it will have to beat out sites like Apartment Guide, ForRent.com, Rent.com and a growing challenger in Zillow.

Zillow is also out to be the go-to rental website, and the slowly growing rentals side of Zillow’s business got a boost with the close of its acquisition of Trulia, which has its own rentals wing.

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Asked by investment analysts this morning if he viewed CoStar’s move in the rental space as a threat to Zillow’s rental business, CEO Spencer Rascoff brushed the issue aside.

With a growing competitor apparently squarely in its sights, CoStar announced its website revamp and consumer marketing plans on the same day that the Zillow-Trulia deal closed.

CoStar has earmarked $100 million for an “aggressive” consumer marketing campaign to grow Apartments.com’s market share this year with prime-time and late-night TV spots on network and local stations, radio advertising, online and digital advertising, and social media ads.

The campaign, which launches on March 1 and stars actor Jeff Goldblum, will be the largest consumer marketing campaign in the multifamily industry, according to CoStar.

The new apartments.com site features a mobile-responsive design and detailed information on over 680,000 rental units gathered and verified in what CoStar claims to be the largest research effort ever conducted to document the apartment industry in the U.S.

According to CoStar, more than 1,000 researchers participated in collecting and verifying listing information, visiting and photographing more than 400,000 properties in the runup to the new site’s launch.

CoStar also claims that its researchers make over 1 million calls per month to update available units, rents and other fees. Its proprietary software checks approximately 40,000 apartment websites each day for new information.

The website update sets apartments.com apart from its traditional rental site competitors like ApartmentGuide.com, Rent.com, ForRent.com, Rentals.com and ApartmentFinder.com, said CoStar spokesman Mark Klionsky.

Questions or comments? Email Paul Hagey.