Zoopla’s PR machine seemed to go into overdrive last week to deter more agents from defecting to OnTheMarket.com (OTM), as stockbroker, Panmure Gordon, cut its stance on Rightmove to sell from buy and initiated coverage on Zoopla with a sell rating. Citigroup was also downbeat on the two stocks, reducing its price targets for both.
But Zoopla insisted that it was unmoved by the launch of the OTM rival site last week, which only allows its member agents to advertise on one or the other of Zoopla and Rightmove, but not both.
Just three days after the launch of OTM on Monday 26th January, Zoopla issued a press release stating that OTM had launched with a ‘wimper’ by insisting that the traffic to the new property portal had been ‘anything but exciting’.
Making reference to data from independent web monitoring firm Hitwise, Zoopla said that on its first day, the OTM website attracted only 23,000 visits, with many of these coming from industry participants interested in seeing the website for the first time. Since then traffic to OTM had halved daily to 12,000 visits on Tuesday and less than 6,000 visits on Wednesday. This compares to an average of 1.5 million visits per day to Zoopla Property Group’s (ZPG) websites, giving OTM an audience currently under 1 per cent of that of ZPG, Zoopla claimed.
Lawrence Hall (left) of Zoopla Property Group said, “Our audience and traffic has remained unchanged since the launch of OTM and whilst Mr Springett seems to be taking aim at ZPG as he sees this as the only way for OTM to get a foothold in the portal market, he will soon learn that delivering great products to consumers and excellent value to agents is the only recipe for success in this space. Given the hype and media attention surrounding the launch of OTM this week the audience figures to date are remarkably weak when you consider what he has asked his members to give up.”
Mr Hall went on to claim that a number of agents who cancelled their subscription to ZPG to join OTM are now “enquiring about coming back to ZPG” as they are “starting to understand the costs of giving up our services”.
ZPG also claimed that some OTM agents, conscious of the impact of delisting their properties from either Rightmove or Zoopla, are finding numerous creative ways around the ‘one other portal’ rule, preventing them from listing on all the other major portals.
Statons estate agents in north London posted a message on Twitter last week, which was later deleted, insisting that it would still be advertising its properties on Rightmove, Zoopla and any other portals of its choice.
“We are members of OnTheMarket but WE ARE NOT dropping Zoopla, Rightmove, Prime Location or any of our other Property websites,” the now deleted tweet said.
It is understood that OTM, which deemed that Statons had breached the ‘one other portal’ rule, has removed or hidden Statons properties from the OTM website until the issue is resolved.
Meanwhile, Ian Springett, Chief Executive at OTM, is urging more agents to now consider signing up to OTM, whose national advertising campaign kicked off last weekend with a large advert in the Sunday Times and television adverts, including a commercial on Sky Sport TV in between the Arsenal v Aston Villa football match.
“With our full launch marketing campaign now underway – combined with the extraordinary co-branding, promotional and social media support we are seeing from our members – we have an excellent platform to continue growing OnTheMarket.com,” Springett told JUNGLEdrum. “We are all looking forward to exciting times ahead.”
“Now is the time for any independent agent not already with us to get on board and be part of creating a market-leading but low-cost alternative to Rightmove and Zoopla.”