The Italian portal Immobiliare.it has been fined €500k by competition authorities for not substantiating claims around its market leadership position.
The case was brought against Immobiliare by its main rival, the Spanish-headquartered portal company Idealista which owns and operates both the Idealista.it and Casa.it portal sites.
According to the Global Legal Chronicle, which broke the story, the crux of the case was Immobiliare's failure to support its claims to be the #1 portal in Italy with enough evidence. The court had ordered Immobiliare to substantiate its primacy claims by providing figures around its number of client agencies and number of active listings in a previous 2016 hearing.
According to the Italian anti-trust court, Immobiliare's failure to visibly provide these figures for its users constituted a failure to inform consumers and would have "prevented consumers from making informed commercial decisions and would therefore have integrated a violation of the Consumer Code".
Immobiliare still maintains it's market-leading status in the Italian market with a spokesperson telling Online Marketplaces that:
"The fine was imposed by Antitrust because Immobiliare.it resulted non-compliant in updating the data on the "Why are we the n. 1 in Italy" page related to the parameters that determine our leadership; secondly, on how we missed to indicate the sources of data related to the number of advertisements and real estate clients listed on the "About Us" page.
However, through the same sanctioning measure and on the basis of the documentary evidence provided, the Antitrust itself found that Immobiliare.it is truly the market leader in Italy for App downloads. The number "has always been consistently higher compared to the Idealista App's downloads and to any other competitor " (quote from paragraph 22 of the measure). In light of this important assessment, we will continue to update the data that certify our leadership for the site and app, as per our commitments."
The two companies are fierce rivals in the Italian market where, according to Similarweb seen below at least, Immobiliare and Idealista are vying for market leadership. Since it took over the operations of #3 player Casa.it in January, Idealista's case has grown stronger.
The two companies have both released TV adverts claiming to be Italy's #1 portal with Idealista's complaint seemingly stemming from Immobiliare's September 2021 campaign which claimed the portal was the number one website in the market.
Idealista's TV campaign from October 2020 is even less subtle in claiming to be #1...