Rentals

Rent.com and RadPad campaign against spam-ridden websites to win visitors

Celebrity spokespeople and legitimacy are the new focus for these sites

Everyone is jumping on the “Break up with Craig” bandwagon spearheaded by Zumper, an apartment and housing rental website. Other rental websites such as Rent.com and RadPad are taking it upon themselves to ensure that renters look to them as a reputable source for listings in their area with new tools and campaigns to set themselves apart.

Following in the footsteps of the Apartments.com and Jeff Goldblum relationship, Rent.com is adding a celebrity face to its newest advertising effort, which is the first-ever nationwide campaign for the apartment listing site.

Comedian and actor J.B. Smoove dons the character of the Legit-a-Master, who sets off to prove that the listings on the website are legitimate and are paired with reviews from actual people residing in the building.

The celebrity endorsement is just one component of the site’s overall rebranding launch, which also includes a new logo, an updated website, nearly triple the amount of listings and more.

In preparation for the relaunch, the website conducted an in-depth study to determine what consumers felt was lacking in the industry. One big conclusion in the research by Rent.com was that there was no one leading brand that consumers felt a connection to, so they had naturally hoped to fill that void.

In addition to the celebrity face, the brand set to launch a slew of tools on the new site, including 3-D floor plans, high-definition photos and video, and trusted reviews.

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Each apartment listing has been verified by Rent.com, and some listings are accompanied by “certified resident ratings and reviews,” which offer real-time feedback from building residents on what it’s like to rent an apartment there.

“Rent.com’s target audience is the younger millennial, so we knew that in addition to informing and educating them, we wanted to make the campaign fun and entertaining,” said Rob Strasberg, co-CEO and chief creative officer, Doner, in a statement. “It was crucial that the campaign creative was infused with humor in order to really capture the attention of renters.”

The national campaign covers all bases with broadcast, digital, social and nontraditional media outreach. More than three dozen broadcast and cable networks will feature the campaign, as well as on-demand services and other online programming.

And while it may not have the swagger — or “smooveness” — of Rent.com, RadPad recently released a new tool for apartment searchers to cut through the noise and find a legitimate listing. PadRank was tested in beta through the beginning of May and was created to help improve the quality of listing data.

PadRank is an algorithm that evaluates the quality and accuracy of all listings in real time based on the listing’s photos, the source of the listing, the amount of time it takes for a landlord to respond to a potential renter and a valid street address. All listings must also feature at least three high-quality photos. While not seen publicly, PadRank gives each listing a score that must meet a baseline to be listed on RadPad. Higher-scored listings are promoted based on the criteria.

Each month, RadPad processes through more than 600,000 listings and more than 5 million pictures. With the new algorithm, RadPad also hopes to sift through duplicate listings, scams and apartments that have been rented but are still listed.

Email Kimberly Manning.