Technology

Traffic to realtor.com leaps forward

News Corp. poised to unleash a new marketing campaign for its US real estate portal

After overtaking Trulia for the No. 2 portal slot in February, realtor.com cut deeper into Zillow’s sizable Web traffic lead in April, according to new data from Experian Marketing Services.

With the spring homebuying season entering its prime, traffic from desktop computers and mobile devices jumped 5.4 percent to all real estate sites in April from the previous month, but it sprung up most at realtor.com.

Portal Share of desktop real estate Web market in April*
zillow.com 21.83%
realtor.com 10.71%
trulia.com 8.92%

Source: Experian Marketing Services *Includes traffic from desktop computers and mobile devices, but not from mobile apps.

The portal saw a monthly jump in traffic of 1.18 percentage points, followed by Zillow at a 0.75 percentage-point spring, Trulia at a 0.28 percent-point skip and Redfin at a 0.26 percentage-point hop.

News Corp.’s digital real estate division — which includes Move Inc. (which News Corp. bought in November) and a large stake in the operator of the popular Australian portal realestate.com.au — saw a big year-over-year jump in revenue thanks to the Move acquisition, but the media conglomerate as a whole saw revenue dip 1 percent in the quarter from the year previous.

Profits for the firm were also down 52 percent in the quarter from a year ago, from $48 million to $23 million, a drop the firm attributed to a higher effective tax rate and lower earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) from its divisions, among other factors.

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Still, News Corp. has plans to further stoke the traffic fire with a new marketing campaign for the portal in the coming weeks, the media giant’s CEO, Robert Thomson, told investors on a conference call to discuss the firm’s third-quarter (fiscal year) earnings.

The new campaign will “(highlight) our crucial links to the industry, but also (stress) the real value and real results that come from realtor.com in real time,” Thomson said.

Zillow Group, realtor.com’s chief rival, launched a new national TV ad promoting Zillow in February as part of a 2015 consumer marketing campaign that will exceed $75 million, which is what it spent last year.

Thomson attributed some of the traffic success to the continuing integration of content from other News Corp.’s properties like The Wall Street Journal into the News & Advice section at realtor.com. Traffic to this area of the site took an annual leap of 600 percent in March, he noted.

Thomson also emphasized at the top of the call that realtor.com’s integration into News Corp.’s empire is “ahead of schedule.”

Portal Web traffic in April 2015 Web traffic in November 2014 Percentage point change
zillow.com  21.83%  21.76%  0.07 percentage points
realtor.com  10.71%  7.74%  2.97 percentage points
trulia.com  8.92%  8.67%  0.25 percentage points

Source: Experian Marketing Services *Includes traffic from desktop computers and mobile devices, but not from mobile apps.

Move brought in $73 million in the quarter, News Corp. reported. Despite an EBITDA loss of $9 million for the firm, News Corp. Chief Financial Officer Bedi Singh said $11 million of that was related to stock-based compensation related to News Corp.’s acquisition of Move.

On a stand-alone basis, Singh noted that Move’s revenue had jumped 25 percent from the same quarter a year ago, led by realtor.com’s core broker and agent ad product, Connection for Co-Brokerage, which saw a 130 percent increase over that period.

Email Paul Hagey.