By Stephanie Andre
RISMEDIA, October 23, 2010—Already major players in the real estate space individually, Zillow and Yahoo! Real Estate recently announced a partnership through which Zillow will power Yahoo! Real Estate’s listings and also work as the advertising team for both sites, respectively. Given the size of this partnership, will this bring a major shift in the way consumers shop for homes? Will more brokers view this partnership as a must-have in their 2011 marketing plans? In this exclusive interview with Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff and Steve Schultz, head of Yahoo! Real Estate and Yahoo! Finance, find out what this collaboration entails and what they believe this partnership can really do for the real estate industry.
Stephanie Andre: Given the still-stalled real estate market, it seems that Zillow’s doing quite well.
Spencer Rascoff: Yes, thank you. We have been experiencing record traffic. For August alone, we had more than 12 million unique visitors. Mobile has been huge for us. We’re the number one real estate app for the iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile and the iPad (according to download counts in the respective app stores).
SA: The news that Zillow is teaming up with Yahoo! Real Estate on a large scale is huge for your company but also for the real estate industry. How did this partnership come to be?
SR: Well, we’ve had a smaller partnership with Yahoo! Real Estate for some time now. Yahoo! Real Estate was one of the first platforms to use our Zestimates and other data. What this new endeavor allows us to do is say to a real estate broker or agent, “Now you will be able to reach the largest real estate audience possible with Zillow and Yahoo! Real Estate.” With our 12 million unique visitors and Yahoo! Real Estate’s numbers, we estimate that we’ll be larger than any of our competitors—that’s exciting for us and should be for agents as well. This partnership brings out the best of both companies. Yahoo! brings a brand and national footprint, ubiquity with the user. At Zillow, we bring a very hyperlocal business and specific industry focus; real estate is our core business. Once you bring us together, it is a very compelling offering to the real estate industry.
Steve Schultz: Exactly. This partnership is great because it allows each of our respective companies to do what we do best. Listings and real estate is Zillow’s core business. For us at Yahoo!, we are experts at the user experience.
SA: Can you explain the partnership?
SR: The first part is that Zillow will now power all of Yahoo! Real Estate’s listings. In the past, Yahoo! and Zillow have gotten listings the same way: through the brokerage, agents themselves, MLSs, etc. Once we launch, the for-sale homes on Yahoo! Real Estate will be exclusively from Zillow. If you want to post your listings on Yahoo! Real Estate, you will have to go through Zillow to do it. It’s a strong value proposition for the brokerage and MLS. We’re still setting up listings for free, but they’ll now have more exposure…and unlimited photos.
The second part of the partnership is that Zillow will be the exclusive seller of advertising. We will be selling ad space for both sites. Our Zillow Premier Agent program will be extended to Yahoo! Real Estate, and current Zillow advertisers will be offered the first chance to purchase Premier Agent placement on Yahoo! Through this program, agents who buy the program will get prominent placement as the buyer’s agent in their zip code. The listings also get sorted to the top of the page as the featured homes. It offers those agents five times the amount of exposure versus not buying into the program. Once they reach the top of the directory, they are also listed at the top of the mobile directory.
SA: What is the timeline for the official launch of the partnership?
SR: We’re working very hard on the backend right now. We’re more focused on getting it right than putting it out to market prematurely. We’re aiming for later this year. However, advertising is available now. We are already working with different brokerages throughout the country. My message to brokers would be that if you’re interested, contact Zillow now.
SA: How does this partnership benefit the real estate community?
SR: For an agent, the major benefit is one less listing feed to manage. The typical brokerage sends listings to close to 20 feeds. With this announcement, if you’re sending listings to your MLS and Zillow, you’re pretty much covered. The MLS is most likely sending to Realtor.com and other aggregators are getting their listings from the MLSs themselves. Though it’s early, we’ve gotten very positive feedback from agents.
SS: Also, for advertisers, it’s a no-brainer: it doubles their reach. If I was an agent looking for advertising, and I could advertise on Yahoo!, I would. It’s very compelling. For the seller, it’s an extension of the benefits to agents—more exposure. For buyers, if you look on our sites, you’ll see that Yahoo! has many of the same listings. Conversely, we also have some relationships with smaller brokerages that might not be on Zillow. Now, they’ll be on both.
SA: How will this partnership change the buyer’s home-shopping experience on Yahoo! Real Estate?
SS: Very little will change about the user experience on Yahoo! Real Estate. The site will still continue to be a user experience driven by Yahoo! The two commonalities between Yahoo! Real Estate and Zillow will be that we will share the same set of ad products and you’ll see the same set of existing homes for sale. The pages will still look the same…the design will be from the Yahoo! perspective; that is, it will be our look and feel, our user experience.
SA: What message do you want to get out to brokerages about this new partnership?
SR: I would say that a lot of brokerages are now sitting down to create their 2011 marketing plans; Zillow would like to be a part of that conversation. We now work with every major brokerage and brand in the country. With this partnership, we believe we are more important than ever to a brokerage’s marketing plan.
SS: This really impacts the industry; it impacts competitive dynamics. Now, for the first time, we’ve given them a scalable and viable alternative.
For more information, visit www.zillow.com.
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