Company: Bay Area News Group
Key Executive: Eric Bloom, Director of Real Estate, Bay Area News Group
Initiative: LeadHax real estate platform with self-serve ad building & programmatic distribution
Technology Partners: iPublish Media Solutions (formerly Wave2 Media) and AdTaxi
Challenge: During 20 years in real estate advertising, Eric Bloom, Director of Real Estate at the Bay Area News Group noticed a persistent challenge: How to tap into the market of agents currently spending most of their budget on digital ads. According to Borrell, the real estate industry spends $14 billion in advertising, a large portion of this in primarily digital agent advertising. Bloom wanted a self-service solution that was also simple, powerful and affordable for agents. “We already do well with brokers.”
Strategy: The group partnered with iPublish Media Soultions, a software developer of self-serve and ad building tools, and AdTaxi to build the model. Called LeadHax, after the idea of “new tricks” to generate leads, the new system launched over the past several weeks. Here’s how it works:
1. Leadhax: The Product
Agents using LeadHax are able to build ads and serve them across a programmatic network that identifies people most likely to be interested in real estate in hyper targeted areas, in a self-serve platform. The ads do not appear in print, and only appear on BANG websites if they appear in the programmatic buy.
Agents start at LeadHax.com, where they see an introductory video and are immediately led down two sales pathways: Listing ads or Agent ads:
a. Listing Ads
Agents who select listings then type in the address of the listing, which is then prepopulated with fields from MLS and other listings services:
These fields then populate an ad, which is pre-built in the three most common sizes served. The agent uploads images and company logos.
The next selection is the area targeted; default is 15 miles around the property address, but agents can also select other zip codes they feel are likely to be interested. TheTradeDesk managed by AdTAxi serves ads not only in the target area, but also to people most likely by virtue of their demographics and behavior to be interested in real estate purchases, using 30 real estate-intense data segments.
Since 92% of local sites are available programmatically, the audience is broad enough to create this high quality target and is showing a click-through rate of .1% and higher. The number of impressions is not disclosed.
Making the purchase
At the end of the transaction, the agent proofs the ad and selects from two price points, two weeks for $99 or four weeks for $179, “a price point we feel is right in a self-serve environment”:
The sale is supported by a chat line and includes a Thank You email.
b. Agent ads
The second funnel channels the agent into a self promotional ad. These are intended to replace the self-promotion “post cards” agents typically sent to neighborhoods they were farming. Any neighborhood can be targeted within a 15 mile radius of a zip code, so these agent ads pop up when those people go online.
The funnel is also simple: The agent types in name, and selects theirs from a drop-down menu. They can upload a photograph, create a tag line, select a color and add the company logo.
Again, the art is generated in three sizes - the more sizes, the broader the number of media accessed, and therefore the narrower the target. People who click on the ads are also retargeted several times.
Pricing starts at $99, and options are one month and six months.
Bloom says these ads allow continual digital farming of an area, and as listings are signed they can be marketed on the same platform.
2. Marketing self-serve ads
The marketing starts with personal calls on real estate brokerages leveraging existing relationships sales reps already have. Then there are five tiers to advertising: The local website, print ads, Facebook, and most important, direct email to agents.
The first step in the drip email marketing is an explanatory video, with the subject line: Introducing LeadHax - The Latest and Greatest Realtor Resource. A copy of the first email is here:
BANG started with an email list of about 1400 realtors out of about 15,000 to 20,000 in the market so they had a ways to go in building or buying the full list. One list broker they often use is Datadynamix.
Then the first of the “drip” emails with the intro video yielded a 30% open rate - about three times the typical open - and ten new sales. The next email will be remarketing the openers. The subject line will change. “We are not going to inundate them with email, just intelligently target them.”
Still, “You have to touch them several times. It is a new brand they have never seen and they are still asking “What is LeadHax?” So we are using multiple Facebook boosts and email, so they see us several times.”
During soft launch over several weeks, the Bay Area News Group’s biggest success so far has been the office presentations. The broker visits signed up most of the big companies, including Remax and Coldwell Banker, generating almost 200 sign ups during the first few weeks of the soft launch.
“The brokers love us,” Bloom said. “It brands their business, so we are invited to do office presentations.”
Most agents are buying listing rather than agent ads, but Bloom thinks this will change. “We think it’s going to be more self promotion ads.” The buys for agent ads are also more lucrative.
The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and MediaExecsTech, developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine, to showcases perspectives from around the world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.