Zoopla has put out a market release showing that its traffic is reaching record levels and is up 14% when compared to the same period last year. More importantly, they also confirmed that OnTheMarket had indeed significantly impacted Zoopla's business. While Zoopla states that they have had an 11% decrease in advertisers, this number masks the true decrease in the ever important number of estate agency branches advertising.
Total advertisers include agency branches, new home developments, and commercial agency branches, and overseas agency branches. The decrease in the core agency branches is being off set by the increase in home developments, commercial and overseas branches. Taking these other non-core advertisers out of the mix, UK agency numbers decreased from 16,059 in January 2014 to 13,402 at the end of January 2015.
Taking into account the note at the end of the statement that says "The UK agency number includes an estimated 500 branches that served notice in January and are no longer listing but are still paying members as at the end of the Period." the number of UK agencies using Zoopla will decrease to around 12,900. This is a 20% decrease in the number of agency branches using Zoopla from January 2014 and if we look at the September 2014 numbers, it is a 21%+ decrease in the number of agency branches.
Here is the full text of the statement.
Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA) (the "Group" or "ZPG"), the digital media business and operator of leading UK online property portals including Zoopla and PrimeLocation, announces its trading statement based on performance of the business between 1 October 2014 and 31 January 2015 (the "Period").
The Group has grown its reach and audience significantly, resulting in record levels of consumer traffic to its websites and mobile apps, with 42.3m average monthly visits during the Period, an increase of 14% compared with the same period last year and with a record total of 50.5 million visits during January. Mobile devices now account for over 60% of the monthly visits and are up 42% compared with the same period last year, as consumers continue to use the Group's services to search and research the property market at work, home and on the move.
We continue to invest in marketing our brands and developing our platform to help our users find their next home and our members market their listings more efficiently. Our 'Smarter' marketing campaign continues and is delivering strong results. And having launched new, unique tools including commute time search, price per square foot and comparable reports over the past few months we continue to innovate and develop numerous further exciting features for both our users and members which will be rolled out over the coming months.
As guided in November 2014, the number of agency members has been impacted in the short term by the launch of Agents' Mutual and its restrictive 'only one-other portal' rule. The number of total advertising members at the end of the Period has fallen 11% over the past year to 16,967 (Jan 2014: 18,999); of which 13,402 (Note 1 below) are UK agency branches (Jan 2014: 16,059); 2,793 are new home developments (Jan 2014: 2,644); 635 are overseas agency branches (Jan 2014: 296); and 137 are commercial agency branches, part of the new commercial channel which was launched at the end of last year.
Current trading & outlook
Our consumer-led approach and proposition continues to drive strong engagement on our websites and mobile apps as consumers increasingly rely on the unique search tools and data we provide. We offer the best value digital marketing proposition available to property professionals with existing members benefiting from increased exposure and enquiries and record leads per listing and branch. Whilst we expect some limited further UK agency churn, this is likely to be partly offset by the return of some members who have found the Agents' Mutual restrictive 'one-other portal rule' damaging to their business. The Group is trading in line with management expectations and is well positioned for long-term growth.
Alex Chesterman, Founder & CEO of Zoopla Property Group Plc said, "We are delighted that our focus on delivering the best features and tools for consumers has resulted in record traffic with over 50 million visits to the Group's sites in January. We continue to benefit from the shift to mobile and have now passed the significant milestone of over 5 million app downloads as consumers increasingly use our services to search and research the property market at work, home and on the move."
"We believe that Agents' Mutual remains a short-term event and that its success will be determined by whether consumers engage with it. So far it appears to have got off to a very slow start with consumers. We continue to enhance the services we provide to our users and the value we offer to our members and our record traffic highlights the success of this approach. ZPG remains the best value digital marketing platform for UK property professionals and our focus remains on building our brands and business for the long-term and providing the most useful property resources to our users along with being the most effective partner for our members."
Note 1: The UK agency number includes an estimated 500 branches that served notice in January and are no longer listing but are still paying members as at the end of the Period. The number of UK agency branches at the end of FY14 (30 September 2014) was 16,373.