Trulia Ups Online Real Estate Ante, Launches Self-Serve Ad Platform
The move comes about a month after the online real estate marketing company launched the Trulia Ad Network (TAN), giving home-focused advertisers a one-stop shop for buys across properties like Village Voice Media, local publications like the St. Petersburg Times, and classifieds provider Oodle.
San Francisco-based Trulia spent almost nine months developing Trulia Pro, which got a trial run in late 2007 as a service called Agent Featured Listings. "It was our first stab at providing a self-service product," said Pete Flint, Trulia's CEO. "And it wasn't a huge success, but we learned what worked from that and made some changes to launch Trulia Pro."
The new platform is accessed via from the Trulia Web site. Current members of Trulia Voices, the company's real estate-focused community, can get to Trulia Pro with one click. Flint said that the product was designed with the nearly 100,000 Trulia Voices members in mind--particularly the do-it-yourself interface and subscription-based pricing.
"What we heard from potential advertisers was that they wanted something incredibly simple," Flint said. "Terms like CPM, CPC, and CPA may be fundamental to online media buyers, but it's a vocabulary that the average local advertiser doesn't have--not to mention setting up ads to IAB standards. With Trulia Pro, they can place an unlimited number of ads and understand their spend. Thirty-nine dollars a month is easy to budget for and comprehend."
The ad units available include a standard listing that links back to a Trulia-hosted property page (complete with pricing info, a description, and a Google Street View plot), as well as what Trulia calls Spotlight Ads. The Spotlight modules can feature a broker or agent's picture and a link to their Web site, or showcase a particular property.
The keyword or ZIP-code triggered listings will show up as one of the top three results during a home buyer's search on Trulia.com, while the Spotlight Ad will run in a slot on the right pane. Flint said that the company will experiment with where to place the Spotlight Ads based on optimal performance. Advertisers also get full impression and click-through reports.
Trulia Pro has the potential to be a "real game changer," according to Peter Krasilovsky, The Kelsey Group's vice president and program director, Marketplaces. "It's pretty innovative. It pushes the envelope of what we're seeing in terms of online advertising options in the real estate market," Krasilovsky said. Recent Kelsey Group estimates have shown that online ads only garner about a quarter of the $7 billion spent on real estate advertising in the U.S.--a stat Krasilovsky said points to the fact that agents and brokers still face many challenges when trying to market themselves and their properties online.
"On some levels, the Web is too efficient," Krasilovsky said. "The bulk of agents buy ad space by ZIP code. So if a broker is selling a house in Riverside County, Calif., they typically don't even pitch their ads to someone in Los Angeles. But in a tough market, it's important to pitch and expand to new prospects. And Trulia is saying, 'Count on us. We have 5 million unique visitors per month. If you're willing to write your own ad--we'll remove the other trouble, we'll reduce the cost--now get crazy with your marketing.'"