Content is King in the digital classifieds space

Javier Etxebeste

October 11, 2016

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Content is king when it comes to digital classifieds

Having killer content is important for property portals at the beginning of their journey and can help place them in good stead when they face competitors further down the track, writes Javier Etxebeste.

In Germany ImmobilienScout24 is the Kaiser but not in every segment

Everybody on the internet believes that content is king – in the digital classifieds space that is probably even moreso the case.

Contrary to my current opinion, in the last 10 years I have been working to prove that although true as an overall principle, property listings (content) over time become a commodity. As the industry consolidates, the top 2-3 portals end up having the same or very similar content.

Today, we start the DAYBAT blog series with the opposite statement. Content is king at the start of the competitive battle. But as the competition heats up and the race ends up becoming a two-horse race: Rightmove vs Zoopla, Zillow vs Move.com, Immobiliare vs Casa.it or Immoscout24 vs Immowelt-immonet, the composition of the content and its granularity describes the competitive position of the portals.

With the goal of evaluating property portals’ content, revenue, and competitive position, we set up DAYBAT.

We are starting, sharing our perspective in one of the most interesting markets globally – Germany. This is a market with three distinct and unique leading players: Immobilienscout24 (IS24), Immowelt (Iwelt) and eBay Kleinanzeigen (eBay). At DAYBAT we index their website content, analyze the listings they display and in which circumstances they exhibit them.

München, Deu, 29.10.2014 Greg Ellis, Von Scout 24
CEO of ImmobilienScout24, Greg Ellis

This is what we found in our analysis during week 37, 2016, (September 12 to 19) for the sales and rentals categories.

To the readers familiar with Germany, many of the conclusions will not be striking. Nevertheless we want to emphasize that our analysis is based in reliable metrics, We plan to share them relatively frequently. Spreading not only opinions but data backed perspectives.

SALES

Javier-Sales

Gross listings.  For a set of definitions look at the bottom of the post.

IS24, is a very strong leader, with 212.544 Sales Gross listings against 137.529 at Iwelt, 35.3% fewer. eBay is even weaker with 82,8% fewer, not surprising given that eBay is a horizontal player and therefore is not focused in sales.

Obviously this is just an average for the full country and the picture per lander, (region) could be and (we have seen) it is very diverse (we do not have space to go into much detail).

We also provide data on Total Area and Total Value of portfolio for both Gross listings and Qualified listings. See footnote.

Qualified listings.

We prefer to discuss the Qualified listings metrics as they are clean. Based on our tracking history Qualified listings metrics behave more homogeneously.

The key conclusion is that the three portals present consistent data: Iwelt has smaller properties at a slightly higher price per sq-metre, whereas eBay, as expected, covers the lower end of the market.

We collect and process many listings attributes and we include here four of the most relevant ones.

Private vs professional listings.

  • eBay is the strongest in % (32,27%) but also in absolute terms, with 11.779 listings.
  • Iwelt almost non existent beyond professional agents.

Featured vs default listings.

  • IS24 the strongest with 26,75% of their listings featured.
  • Iwelt and eBay with very few featured listings

And then two listing quality attributes.

Price-area-rooms (Q1).

  • All three players with above 86% of listings with the first three attributes, Q1,

Geolocation quality.

  • eBay geolocates the listings with tremendous precision. 83% of them with 7 decimals
  • IS24 has only 16.9% of theirs with at least 5 decimals
  • Iwelt has good average quality with more than 55% of their listings with 7 decimals

In summary, IS24 very solidly established in sales from content and featuring perspective.

Iwelt and IS24 average pricing are very similar even though IS24 has many more listings. In our view this reflects the strength of IS24 commercial position and probably the diverse geographical position of Iwelt.

Contrary to popular perception, eBay’s listings do have high quality in spite of being a horizontal player.

RENTALS

Overall in rentals the perspective is similar to sales but more intense

Gross listings.

IS24, is a very strong leader, with 107.185 Rentals Gross listings against 56.866 at Iwelt, 47% fewer. But eBay is relatively stronger with only 53% fewer than IS24, (this is again consistent as horizontals have a stronger position in rentals than in sales).

It’s surprising how far off  IS24 Gross Rental Monthly Revenue and Gross AVG Price/m2 appear. This is why Qualified listings are of significantly higher relevancy and precision.

Qualified listings.

Similar conclusions to sales, the three portals present consistent value data with an average monthly rent price/m2 between €7,09 and €8,73. Again Iwelt has smaller area properties at a slightly higher price per m2. eBay as expected covers the lower end of the market with the lowest price/m2. Worth mentioning that we are witnessing consistent behaviour in these value metrics in other analysis, increasing our degree of confidence in how relevant Qualified listings Value data points are, i.e.: AVG price per listing, AVG Price/m2.

Private vs professional listings.

When we split rental listings in private and agents listings, eBay (38.181 listings) stands out as significantly stronger than IS24, (18.556), more than two times its number of listings.

This is of particular importance for two main reasons:

  • Rentals and specially private listings are the benchmark for horizontals in their attack on real estate against the verticals.
  • In 2015, German legislators regulated that agent commission in rental property services will be paid by the landlord. Therefore pushing landlords to avoid agents and seek cheaper free advertising channels (like eBay). Therefore this segment is prone for strong growth.

eBay is reacting to this opportunity already and we expect to see growing focus on this sub-segment from both, IS24 and eBay

Featured vs default listings.

  • IS24 the strongest with 17,21% of their listings featured, although weaker than in sales, (26,7%). Something not surprising as profitability per listing is much higher in sales than in rentals.
  • Again Iwelt and eBay with very few featured.

Price-area-rooms (Q1).

  • All three players with above 87% of listings with the first three attributes, Q1,

Geolocation quality.

  • Again eBay geolocates the listings with precision. 74% of them with 7 decimals
  • IS24 significantly improving its quality with 59% of theirs with at least 5 decimals
  • Iwelt displays lower precision listings. with only 31,52% above 5 decimals

In summary, IS24 very solidly established on average for the whole Germany.

Iwelt probably is not evaluated fairly at the national average level as they will have much stronger positions in some areas, (South for Immowelt, North for Immonet)

eBay significantly stronger in rentals with a focus to start slowly challenging IS24 in the category.

Vertical vs Horizontals.

eBay having good quality content and relevant offering for the low end of the market is probably starting to focus in Real Estate. They have being hiring a Business Development Head for the Real Estate category. GIven the overall evolution globally in the battle between horizontal and verticals. Leboncoin owning the category vs Seloger in France, Avito in Russia…, we expect Germany to be one of the major battle-fields in this regards. On top we think that other players specially in the mobile app space: Letgo, Wallapop, might be eyeing Germany as an interesting vertical opportunity.

Definitions

Gross listings.

Gross listings include the full set of listings displayed by a portal, including properties with no area, no price or having an area above 5.000m2 or a higher price than 5M€ for sales or 25.000€, monthly rent for rentals.

Total Gross Area, is the sum of the gross listings area, including listings with zero area or with area above 5.000m2.

Gross Portfolio Value is the sum of the price of listings displayed by a portal, including properties with no price or with a higher price than 5M€ for sales.

Gross Rental Monthly Revenue, is the sum of the area of listings displayed by a porta., including properties with no price or with a price higher than 25.000€ / monthly for rentals.

Gross AVG Price/m2 is the ratio calculated dividing the Gross Portfolio Value or Gross rental Value by the corresponding Total Gross Area. 

Qualified listings.

Qualified listings include the set of listings displayed by a portal, except properties with no area, no price or with an area above 5.000m2 and with a price higher than 5M€ for sales and 25.000€, monthly rent for rentals.

Total Area, is the sum of the area of listings displayed by a portal, except properties with no area, no price or with an area above 5.000m2 and a higher price than 5M€ for sales and for rentals.

Portfolio Value is the sum of the price of listings displayed by a portal., excluding properties with no area, no price or with an area above 5.000m2 and with a price higher than 5M€ for sales.

Rental Monthly Revenue, is the sum of the area of listings displayed by a portal, including properties with no area, no price or with an area above 5.000m2 and with a higher price than 5M€ monthly rent for rentals.

AVG Area per listing, is the sum of the area of listings displayed by a portal, excluding properties with no area, no price or with an area above 5.000m2 and with a  higher price than 5M€ for sales and 25.000€, monthly rent for rentals, divided by the number of Qualified listings. 

AVG Price per listing, is the sum of the price of listings displayed by a portal, excluding properties with no area, no price or with an area above 5.000m2 or with a higher price than 5M€ for sales or 25.000€, monthly rent for rentals divided by the number of Qualified listings. 

AVG Price /m2, is the sum of the price of listings displayed by a portal, excluding properties with no area, no price or with an area above 5.000m2 or a higher price than 5M€ for sales, and 25.000€, monthly rent for rentals, divided by the sum of the area of listings displayed by a portal, excluding properties with no area, no price or with an area above 5.000m2 or with a higher price than 5M€ for sales and 25.000€, monthly rent for rentals.

Geolocation quality (see Decimal Degrees).

5 Decimals or digits, is worth up to 1.1 m: it distinguish trees from each other.

6 Decimals or digits, is worth up to 0.11 m: you can use this for laying out structures in detail, for designing landscapes, building roads.

7 Decimals or digits, is worth up to 11 mm: this is good for much surveying. 

Footnote*

We are ready to stand behind our numbers. Our goal is to provide precise, reliable, accurate numbers. That does not mean that there are no mistake, there are. But we fundamentally believe our data is correct and that differences might arise more in the definitions that in the actual numbers. For instance in Germany, the sales and rentals categories are not properly single categories as they are made up aggregating different subcategories. Some portal might include the same listing in more than one category. What we include here are all unique properties that are not double counted. If you are a property portal and want to contrast our data please do contact us.

We also have many more metrics. What we show here are our global metrics. metrics that are universally accepted. But we have many that are only applicable to a country, i.e. Germany or to a given player.

Javier Etxebeste is the founder of DayBat: a B2B competitive intelligence venture focused on helping horizontal and vertical companies compete in global classifieds markets. He was also the founder and CEO of Nestoria (acquired by Mitula Group), a property search engine operating in nine countries. He has more than ten years of digital classifieds experience in global markets. From 2002 to 2004, Javier was the Managing Director of Search and Marketplaces for Yahoo!  This article was first posted on DAYBAT.

 

 

Javier Etxebeste

October 11, 2016

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Acerca de Lucas Vargas:

  • Empezó en Grupo ZAP como el VP de Sales y en 2016 cuando la empresa tenía 60 empleados. Fue nombrado COO de VivaReal tomando el mando de Brian Requarth el Co-Fundador. VivaReal lanzó en Colombia y se trasladó a Brasil. En 2017 se hizo CEO del Grupo ZAP.
  • Ha trabajado en Mexico en PWC y en el Banco Santander
  • Tiene un Master de Business Administration de Harvard
  • En noviembre este año después de la fusión de OLX Brasil y Grupo ZAP fue nombrado el CEO del OLX Business Unit. Lidera la empresa junto con Andries Oudshoorn y Marcos Leite
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Simon Baker is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Online Marketplaces and Property Portal Watch. Involved with property portals for 15 years, he’s a well-recognized expert and industry consultant.
As former CEO/MD of the REA Group for 8 years, Simon led the group to its current market-leading position. When he joined REA Group in 2001, it had $4m in revenues, $6m in losses and an $8m market cap.
By 2008, the company presided over $155m in revenues, $35m in EBITDA and enjoyed a peak market cap of $1b. Simon is currently Chairman of the Mitula Group and Real Estate Investar and a serial portal founder and, investor.