frontdoor.com is a US based property listings and information website. It is owned by the Scripps Networks digital media group, which means it is also affiliated with the popular real estate and home cable TV network and website, HGTV.
Here, vice president of interactive sales and development Kelly Roark talks to propertyportalwatch.com about recent developments at frontdoor.com as well as the website's business model, its use of social media, and its future plans:
Can you tell us about the frontdoor.com business model and how it has changed since the website first launched?
The business model for HGTV’s frontdoor.com has never changed; it’s more that we have begun to roll out enhanced features. Scripps Networks, of which both hgtv.com and frontdoor.com are a part, is a lifestyle media organisation that has been delivering our customers an engaged home audience for the past 15 years largely through on-air and digital advertising. We’ve had national advertisers who have invested in our home category for years, and the addition of frontdoor.com created an even more targeted opportunity for them to reach consumers who are in the home buy, sell or search process.
Within the real estate industry specifically, we offer brokers the opportunity to advertise their listings within top search results as well as throughout our real estate guides on both frontdoor.com and hgtv.com, reaching more than 8 million monthly unique visitors. Agents also have the opportunity to share our 5,500 articles and videos with clients via our Facebook integration, with additional agent products launching within the next few quarters.
frontdoor.com is linked to both Facebook and Twitter. Do you have any other future plans for the website in terms of social networking?
Scripps Networks websites have always been focused on social networking, cultivating popular communities such as HGTV’s Rate My Space, which has recently become a TV program as well. Knowing that our audience of home enthusiasts—of which there is less than 15 percent duplication with realtor.com, trulia.com or zillow.com—enjoy sharing their home passions with people of like interests, we’ve already developed various online communities and social networking opportunities on HGTV’s frontdoor.com. Examples include our Home Styles Guide and the Your First Place section of our My First Place show page, communities where consumers can share and compare photos and video with people of similar interests.
What do you think has been the benefit of having social media integrated into the website?
As we often say, everything comes back to the home. People are passionate about their homes and want to share their likes, dislikes, concerns, questions and passions about the home with people of similar interests—especially during the buy, sell and search processes. So developing social communities that enable people to more easily do this only makes sense.
Where we’ve shifted focus from other real estate sites is to not only build communities of interest on our own site, but to also make it easier for brokers, agents and consumers to share those interests on Facebook, where many have already begun to establish their online social networks. That’s where the “social” part really kicks in—when you can create networking between social communities.
We believe that’s why fans enjoy HGTV’s frontdoor.com: the site offers pragmatic, easy-to-understand real estate information that consumers like and real estate professionals can share to help develop more client relationships online. In one sense, our social media integrations have enabled real estate professionals to enjoy the "halo effect" of the HGTV brands via posting their listings on frontdoor.com and sharing the site’s articles with their clients. We've seen countless examples of our content being pushed out by industry professionals on Facebook and Twitter, which validates for us the strength and quality of our content.
frontdoor.com first launched its city guides section in January this year. How many cities does it cover now, and are there plans to expand it further?
Currently we have 54 city guides on HGTV’s frontdoor.com, focused on a combination of major market and destination cities. The intent behind the guides is to offer consumers locally written and locally filmed content describing what it’s like to live in a particular city from the viewpoint of the people who live there. We do have plans to expand the city guide section, with city guides becoming more localised in the near future.
How has the global economic downturn affected frontdoor.com?
Probably the same way that it has hit the industry as a whole in terms of experiencing the impacts of a global market downturn. That said, HGTV’s frontdoor.com is fortunate to have a couple of factors in our favour: (1) we are a relatively new site so there has been a lot of opportunity for upward growth; (2) historically, demand for HGTV content during dramatic experiences such as 9/11 has only reinforced interest in information that helps consumers make the most of their home investment. HGTV’s frontdoor.com, dealing with the buy, sell and search process, is an extension of the information found on HGTV, and user engagement within our articles and video has increased 400 percent since January 2009.
What challenges are you facing with frontdoor.com?
Perhaps the biggest challenge is being able to roll out all of the new features we’re planning as fast as consumers, brokers and agents would like. We’ve been fortunate to see a strong interest in people wanting to get involved with a real estate site that’s part of HGTV. Our intent is for HGTV’s frontdoor.com to be around for the long term, so it’s a careful balance between watching what’s happening in the market and building the site to address the shifts, but also delivering elements that are relevant to consumers, brokers and agents over time as a natural part of the transactional process.
Also, where we’ve been highly successful in developing media and online communities within the food category (Food Network, Food2, Rachel Ray) and the larger home category (HGTV, HGTV Pro, DIY Network), we’re adapting those approaches to frontdoor.com. That means introducing concepts that may be newer to real estate, like TV-to-Web convergent ratios, or the ability to convert TV audience to online audience. That’s an important aspect of HGTV, since we reach 95 million households, and have the ability to convert a high percentage of our viewers to actively engaged searchers of home content online.
What has been the impact of your listing partnerships with newspaper groups and the Internet Broadcasting network of sites?
While the announcements are relatively new, we are already beginning to see increases in online consumers who are searching listings on HGTV’s frontdoor.com. But the true impacts will be seen in the coming year: our intent in establishing these strategic partnerships was two-fold: (1) to leverage Scripps Networks’ media clout and provide easier access for the real estate industry to a unique audience of home searchers beyond page one of Google’s search results; (2) to help promote broker and agent listings at a highly localised level – across the US.
Are there any big plans ahead for frontdoor.com you can tell us about?
Well, our most recent announcement worth noting relates to frontdoor.com’s acquisition of openhouse.com. We believe HGTV’s frontdoor.com is extremely well-positioned to take online open house marketing to a more expansive audience. When you consider on-air promotional vehicles like HGTV’s Open House Sunday programming (10:30 am to 1:30 pm), which drives more engaged viewers to search open house properties on frontdoor.com, there is an even broader opportunity to promote open house search as a result of this addition to the Scripps digital fold. As for the future, now that we’ve built the foundation of the site, expect to see some interesting, new features next year that may emphasise a different type of engagement in online real estate search.