In a move I suspect may be followed by many of the other big real estate brands in 2009, last week at Real Estate Connect in New York, Century 21 announced it was shifting its television advertising dollars to support its online marketing efforts.

You can see the announcement made by Tom Kunz, president and CEO of C21 in an interview done with Susie Hale of Frogpond TV. (The announcement comes at about 3:00 minutes in).

This shift should not come as much of a surprise to many readers of this blog. But what is surprising (and refreshing) is that C21 has come out so publicly in their endorsement of new media. C21 plans to spend the bulk of their advertising investment in 2009 on display advertising, search engine marketing and enhanced listing partnerships with real estate web sites, which no doubt bodes well for companies like Zillow, Trulia and Frontdoor. Their goal, ultimately, is to generate more leads to their franchisees, affiliates and brokers and agents.

Over the last couple years we’ve seen the technology providers and pundits (myself included, natch) talk about the need for real estate industry to fully embrace the Internet as the channel of choice to connect with consumers.

The web provides a platform for brokers and agents to connect more meaningfully and, more importantly, more measurably, with the buyers and sellers who are now predominantly searching for real estate information online.

This wave has been cresting for a long time and while the smarter agents and brokers have ridden the curl of this trend for many years, and have prospered because of it, this announcement sends a clear signal that the big brands are fully committing to this new world as well.

2009 may just be the year that the wave finally comes crashing down and we see the end of big real estate’s old media habits.

Photo by prgibbs.

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