The news yesterday that Google was “entering” the UK/European market sent the share prices of Rightmove and Seloger into a tailspin. The Seloger share price closed down 5.7% at €23.50 while the Rightmove share price was hammered a whopping 10.3% to 499.9p.
So let’s look at what happened. An article by the Financial Times (Dec 2 titled “Google set to enter UK property market”) seems to have set the cat amongst the pigeons. The article stated that Google is in talks with British estate agents and that “experts” say that an entry by them to the market could pose a serious threat to existing property websites. The article didn’t talk about what Google was going to do and Google didn’t comment. So there is really not much to go on. So the only guide we really have as to what Google may do in the UK and Europe is what they have done in Australia.
Google “entered” the Australian market 6 months ago (July 2009) when they made it possible for agents, brokers, franchise groups, and portal sites to place their listings on Google Maps. When a user does a search on Google Maps (not the main Google search) for real estate, Google plots the houses in its database on the maps and users can then click on the various dots to see if they like the houses and then are driven back to the advertiser’s site.
At that time, there was a similar uproar and many were predicting the death of realestate.com.au and domain.com.au and the REA Group share price dropped nearly 7% from $5.90 to $5.50. However in the 6 months since the announcement by Google, the REA Group share price has increased 53% to $8.44, the traffic to the site has increased from 4.5m UB’s in June 09 to 5.4m UB’s in October and analysts are predicting an additional 20% revenue growth for the REA Group in FY 2010.
In August we wrote about the challenges for Google knocking over the market leaders. Here is the link to the article called “The Challenges for Google Real Estate”. All of these still hold true.
Over the next week, we will be writing a series of articles about the true hurdles that Google has to overcome in any market to knock off the incumbent market leaders. Tune in for these articles.
In New York on the 12th January we will be holding the Property Portal Watch Workshop. At this workshop we will be discussing Google and its potential impact on the property portal market. Join the 60+ other attendees to discuss this and other important topics in the property portal market.