Eagle-eyed regular followers of this feature will have noticed that the name has changed this month. Quite honestly we at OMP have had enough of commenting solely on property price reports from around the world. Since some bright spark at a property portal board meeting presumably first came up with the idea of using all the data they had to produce branded housing reports there has been a pretty underwhelming amount of innovation around how to deliver the seemingly perennial message in every market around the world that: "Guess what guys, house prices are up again and most of you still can't afford one".
Companies have increasingly expanded what they report on (we honestly got a press release from a portal this week about the profitability of garages) and the type of content they produce for attention (remember the house price game made by a portal that we covered in December's edition?). That's what we'll be commenting on from now on in this feature: content. In whatever shape or form the portal marketing departments deem fit to produce it in.
Let's dive into some February gems then...
I spent a very pleasant but distracting half an hour last week trying to find the property listing being referred to in Private Property's excellently named 'Sherlock Homes' property riddle game. Users are given a riddle and must find the property listing on the portal that it refers to. If they find the home they might win a prize, and if they get all of the 12 weekly properties correct they are in with a chance of winning a mysterious grand prize.
Why it made the list: As we know, snooping around on property portals is a legitimised new hobby for many in lockdown. Why not do like Private Property and engage these window shoppers in something useful like a promotion? We're sure that if Zillow did something similar it would go viral fairly quickly.
Now, this isn't the first time we have featured Adevinta Spain as an example not to follow on this column, but if they aren't willing to change, neither are we. If you were wondering who sent the PR about the garages, yes it was them.
The company hosted a webinar for journalists this week around the trends in online behaviour in the country (a nice idea) for which they wheeled out several C-level big guns to give presentations. There are some interesting conclusions and stats in the content produced, but it's the presentation of that information that's lacking.
Why it made the list: Several reasons. Firstly, the page of the blog post that covers the report ranks 6th in Google when you put in the name of the report itself, a fact which is at once a pat on the back to the PR people that got it coverage in quite a few news sites and also a hint to the SEO team to maybe change a few things.
Moving on to the blog post itself, apart from the fact that the right-hand side of the screen has enough content tags to fill half a dictionary, the author has committed two cardinal sins. Firstly there are a lot of words and a lot of numbers without any sort of visual break for the reader. Secondly, the best way to read these things is on a pdf (as seasoned property portal report readers will know) links to which on this particular blog post are inconveniently located at the bottom of the page, an area that few readers make it to.
Since the start of the vaccine rollout, the idea of holidays have been prominent in many people's minds. As a newly-minted public company that sells holidays and whose brand has already attained nirvana by ascending to verb-status, Airbnb is very well placed to talk about how holidays might be when they come back. The company's new report entitled 'From Isolation to Connection - Travel in 2021' commits the sin of not having pretty graphs to show readers its data, but it does a good job of making life simple for journalists.
Why it made the list: A company with as many clever people working for it as Airbnb probably understands that when huge market-leading companies make bold claims about the future in bitesize, easily-quoted sentences in a big, well-publicised report, these claims will probably become a self-fulfilling prophecy. After stating that he won't be making any big predictions at the start of the report, CEO Brian Chesky goes on to predict that:
"Once people feel safe to travel, they will. But it will look different than before the pandemic. Travel will be viewed as an antidote to isolation and disconnection. People don’t generally miss landmarks, crowded shuttles, and lines and lobbies packed with tourists. Mass travel is really just a different form of isolation"
You can bet that this narrative will filter its way via news outlets into the public consciousness and in doing so propagate Airbnb and Brian Chesky's reputation as an industry thought-leader.
The US #2 portal's content people have done some good work and have been praised in previous editions of this feature. They are in the bad books this time though, but not because of the quality of their content. At the beginning of the month, Realtor tapped into its data to publish some good advice for home-buyers:
"Act Quickly" said the headline of the Realtor.com report released on the 4th of February...
Why it made the list: You may have already guessed it, but Realtor's "act quickly" advice was rendered hypocritical by the fact that rival portal Zillow had published almost exactly the same report on the 3rd of February.
MovingSoon is a small specialist property portal founded in 2010 which in its own words is "on a mission to make affordable housing more accessible". Finding accommodation that accepts government rent aid can be tough for tenants and those that rely on this kind of help have often had to scroll through a lot of listings on many of the big British portals to filter out listings whose landlords do not discriminate against them. Paul Malone and the MovingSoon team have created a portal to surface properties that accept government aid as well as shared ownership opportunities that can take advantage of the 'Help to Buy' government scheme.
Why it made the list: To quote a press release Paul sent us:
"Help to Buy is a home ownership scheme which started in 2013 aims to help first-time buyers onto the property ladder in England by providing an equity loan of up to 20% of the value of a new-build home. Research from UK based affordable homes website, MovingSoon.co.uk, shows nearly half of people surveyed would prefer to buy a second hand home rather than a new build property with Help to Buy."
Using your property portal platform (relatively small though it may be) to highlight what could be a relatively easy fix to a government affordable housing policy gets you in the good books on this feature.
If you have any content that you think would make a good fit for this feature, send it my way or tag us in (@PortalWatch) on twitter or Linkedin.