But more importantly than working the leads, how can agents know whether the programs they are investing in are, in fact, good buys? How can they tell if it’s worth their money?
Unfortunately, contacting each site’s sales representatives for such information, such as how leads are tracked and how many clicks an ad generates, isn’t as easy as it sounds. Chicago Agent’s ultimate goal was to include this information in each chart we have within this story, which details what each website’s programs are and what they include for what price, but we ran into more trouble than we realized when checking prices per advertising package, number of ZIP codes and number of listings.
When comparing the three websites’ advertising packages and what they offer agents (see our charts throughout this story), you’ll notice that the pricing, and what you get for that price, is similar – but when you ask what you get for a specific ZIP code or the type of ad bought and shown within a purchased ZIP code, things start to get trickier, prices start to increase and answers aren’t as clear-cut.
When we tried to get tracking information for ads in each program offered by Zillow, Alison Paoli, a PR specialist with the company, told us it is virtually impossible to tell agents the average number of hits their ad will get depending on placement on Zillow – this is because page views, as well as the market, are always changing.
“We are able to provide historical data on page views by ZIP code to agents directly, but since that number is always changing, we can’t provide you with a number that will be the same next month as it is today, and feel that it is best to give accurate and up-to-date numbers,” Paoli stated in an email. “The market is very seasonal and subjective – you cannot compare one ZIP code to another because they are all unique (in terms of) different types of homes, how many homes are on the market, and how many homes are in the ZIP code.”
What they do tell agents, when selling ad space and explaining the different programs Zillow offers, is the number of contacts varies based on factors such as agent reviews, the listing and the neighborhood. Therefore, they can’t tell agents any sort of averages when it comes to traffic or qualified vs. unqualified leads.
In addition, it can be hard to find information about prices and what you can get for certain programs. Realtor.com, for example, has a link to its programs at the very bottom of the task bar on the left side of the site, and in its “For Realtors” section, there is not a clear explanation of what programs are offered through the website. For that, agents need to find the “Realtor.com Support” page or the “Solution Center” page, and click on the “Product Support” or “Products” tab at the top – the site shows different products and programs depending on which page you’re on.
And pricing for all the sites is difficult to find – calls about specific pricing per number of listings per ZIP code for Realtor.com and Trulia were not returned, and while we did speak to representatives from Zillow regarding price (and the prices are stated on Zillow.com), for the Premier Agent Platinum program, prices start at $128, but can increase depending on the purchased ZIP code or codes and number of listings.
If we can barely find out this information to report to you, we now realize how hard it must be for agents, who need to rely on test and measure methods to determine if a website’s program is worth its return on investment – and agents can only do this after purchasing a program and actively advertising with it for a year.
This seems to be the one caveat with Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com’s advertising programs – as far as actual data and statistics are concerned, the sites can’t provide any evidence that they are worth an agent’s advertising dollars. However, these sites are clearly working for many agents, and those agents will tell you which site is most worth their investment.