Zillow, Yelp: Mobile Search Contributing To Earnings

Home buyers are going mobile, pushing up revenue for companies like Zillow. During the company's Q4 2014 earnings, the company reported visits to Zillow via a mobile device rose 57% year-over-year. In December 2014, 420 million homes were viewed on Zillow via a mobile device, which equates to 157 homes per second. Nearly two-thirds of Zillow's visits come from a mobile device, and on weekends the percentage rises to more than 70%. 

"Simply stated, 2014 was a remarkable year for Zillow with record revenue, record mobile usage and record Premier Agent advertiser revenue," said Spencer Rascoff, Zillow CEO, in a prepared statement.

Zillow's New York City marketplace, StreetEasy, also gained record annual revenue for 2014, from significant annual growth in mobile and Web traffic, listings page views, and contacts delivered to brokers. 

The company on Friday announced during its Q4 earnings report its acquisition of Trulia will close Tuesday. In July last year, Zillow announced it would acquire its competitor Trulia for a price then valued at about $3.5 billion in stock. The acquisition is now valued closer to $1.8 billion.



In December 2014, Zillow announced that it had pushed the date back to Feb. 15 to satisfy an FTC request for information. Since then, the FTC closed its investigation, pushing the acquisition forward. The company made the announcement during its earnings report, reporting revenue rose 65% to $325.9 million in Q4 2014, up from $197.5 million in 2013.

About 89% of new home shoppers use a mobile search engine to research information, per data from WebsiteBox.

The company's research found one in four users visit Web sites with mobile devices. Of those users, about 75% use smartphones and 25% use tablets.

Zillow is only one example of a service company gaining quarterly revenue from mobile search trends. Last week, Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO at Yelp, speaking at the Goldman Sachs' Technology and Internet Conference Tuesday, said mobile search continues to help Yelp gain revenue from services.

Stoppelman said consumers are more engaged when they start searches on the Yelp app, compared with those starting on a search engine such as Google or Bing. Users look at many more pages when starting from the app. Yelp estimates about 65% of searches are done on mobile devices, and more than 50% of ad impressions are served on mobile.

"Broadening consumer awareness … and driving mobile app downloads have the potential to improve YELP's positioning and business … by lessening its dependence on Google," wrote Tom White, analyst at Macquarie Securities in a research note. "However, the timing of the spending ramp (following recent GOOG pressure and new competing products from FB) casts the decision in a more defensive light."

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