Zillow Plateaus While Trulia Grows

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Here’s a little tidbit that got lost in the shuffle last week.

According to Comscore, Trulia overtook Zillow in traffic for the first time last month (Dec. 07).

From Trulia’s press release today:

Trulia, the fastest growing residential real estate search engine, today announced that it is now one of the top 10 most-visited real estate website in the US, according to the most
recent report released by comScore Networks Inc., an independent Internet audience measurement and consulting company. Trulia also pulled ahead of valuation site Zillow.com in the number of unique visitors to the site, as well as overall audience reach, according to the report.

I’ve been reminded of this fact by several Trulia employees over the last week and unless I’m missing something, Trulia really doesn’t have much to gain by beating Zillow’s traffic (a top 10 ranking is nice however) – other than bragging rights, of course.

Both companies are fiercely competing to build a new destination for real estate consumers on the web – but both are still miles away (for now) from knocking off the market leader, Realtor.com – at least in consumer awareness anyway.

So what’s the fuss about? Trulia is not competing directly with Zillow for the same 3rd party (big brand) consumer facing advertising, so getting knocked off the pedestal won’t immediately hurt Zillow’s bottom line.

Trulia’s model is to pull feeds from brokers and then upsell them on better placements and other enhancements on their site (slapping logos on them). And I’m guessing in that in this day and age, where most brokers have resigned themselves to pushing their listings to as many places as possible, beating Zillow won’t necessarily bring them any more feeds.

Still, the news is significant. Looking at the Comscore data again, it definitely looks like the two sites’ trajectories may be diverging. Zillow’s growth seems to be stalling.

When it launched it was dipping its toes into a blue ocean, but it now may be finding itself drowning in the Red Sea. Smaller, nimbler (and less heavily-funded) competitors are catching up to Zillow and overtaking them. The scary thing to the folks in Seattle should be there are many more on the way.

The impact here will most likely be psychological – Zillow has been the superstar in this space (at least, in the media’s eyes anyway) for the last couple of years. Not so anymore.

That said, being the big draw has always had its downsides too, namely the spotlight was always on and the critics were always watching. Zillow may be all too happy to have Trulia step into the limelight for a while.

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