Technology

Realtor.com exhibits confidence in trek to portal dominance via News Corp.’s earnings call

News Corp. CEO sees 'pathway' to realtor.com taking Zillow's crown

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Takeaways:

  • Realtor.com sees a pathway to becoming the No. 1 U.S. portal.
  • Traffic to realtor.com has grown at nearly twice the rate as Zillow.com’s since News Corp. acquired the portal in November.
  • Realtor.com’s operator brought in $81 million in revenue in the three months ending June 30.

Realtor.com is growing faster than Zillow and Trulia, according to Robert Thomson, CEO of the portal’s parent company, News Corp.

While Thomson didn’t spell out specifics for that claim, he noted that both Web traffic and revenue were up for the portal during the fiscal fourth quarter on the global media giant’s earnings call this week. Thomson said he sees a “pathway” to No. 1.

Realtor.com has a lot of ground to cover if it wants to catch up to Zillow, the real estate traffic king. Real estate brokers and agents wanting to get in front of the most consumer eyeballs will be watching closely as they evaluate where to send their ad dollars and listings.

Since acquiring realtor.com operator Move Inc. last November, News Corp. has powered realtor.com past Trulia into the U.S.’s second most popular real estate portal behind Zillow.

Traffic to realtor.com has grown by nearly twice as much as Zillow’s — while Trulia lost Web market share — over that time period, according to Experian Marketing Services (which does not include traffic from mobile apps). Zillow acquired Trulia in February; both brands now live under parent firm Zillow Group.

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Site November 2014 share of Web and mobile traffic July 2015 share of Web and mobile traffic (% point difference from Nov. 2014)
Zillow.com 21.76% 23.38% (1.62 percentage points)
realtor.com 7.74% 10.73% (2.99 percentage points)
trulia.com 8.67% 8.14% (-0.53 percentage points)

Source: Experian Marketing Services *Does not include traffic from mobile apps

Integrations with other News Corp. properties such as The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and Dow Jones account for some of realtor.com’s traffic growth, Thomson said.

For example, realtor.com widgets and links have approximately 500 million placements each month on News Corp.’s other sites, Move CEO Ryan O’Hara said onstage at Inman Connect in early August.

Thomson noted that realtor.com’s mobile audience jumped 79 percent in June from a year ago. “We’re very optimistic about the future,” he said.

Zillow Group is, too.

In its second-quarter earnings call in early August, Zillow Group’s CEO, Spencer Rascoff, citing comScore stats, said its brands now attract 72 percent of all mobile-only visitors to real estate sites.

Zillow Group and Move have an intense battle for audience ahead. Move introduced a fresh look and a new marketing campaign in May, and Zillow Group will spend more than $100 million to promote Zillow, Trulia and its other brands this year.

Other realtor.com fiscal 4Q data

Realtor.com’s fourth-quarter mobile Web traffic grew by 42 percent from a year ago, and realtor.com operator Move Inc. brought in revenue of $81 million, a 32 percent jump from the previous quarter, according to News Corp. Chief Financial Officer Bedi Singh.

Realtor.com’s broker and agent lead generation product, Connection for Co-Brokerage, and increased media sales thanks to an integration with an ad exchange from another News Corp. property, Dow Jones, and higher traffic accounted for the revenue increase.

Despite the quarter’s revenue growth, Move’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were $15 million in the red. Singh noted that litigation fees associated with its lawsuit against Zillow and stock-based compensation accounted for the bulk of the loss.

Email Paul Hagey.