Domain’s Little Secret!

It is possible for company’ confidential information to become available on Google if that computer is accessible from the Internet.  In fact, it happens all the time. Go and type in “internal memo filetype:doc” into Google and you will see a bunch of things people don’t normally want in the public domain.

I have noticed recently that I have been seeing “Inactive” in Domain.com.au entries when doing searches over the past few months. When you click on a few of them and its clear that this represents a closed account.

Whilst these accounts have no property in the directory anymore, nor are they in the agents directory on the portal the pages are still active and therefore are still indexed by Google and continue to appear in the search engine.

In light of my last article relating to agents dropping subscription portals in the UK at a rate of 1900 in just 8 months for the leading portal rightmove.co.uk I decided to investigate a little further last night.

Using google search I can filter the google results to show only certain pages at the website domain domain.com.au that have the words “inactive” and “domain.com.au” in the title and the word “AgentProfile.aspx in the url which ensures the search only returns the actual agent profile pages.

This should ensure that I only get individual agent profiles for agents that are now marked as inactive on the domain system

This returns 3370 individual agent profiles.

Google Search of Domain Inactive Pages

The actual url is quite long so I have used the tinyurl.com service and you can do the search yourself by clicking on here: http://tinyurl.com/domaininactive

I am not suggesting that all of these agents have left domain in the past few months, or even a year. Maybe it is for a few years, or it could even represent how many agents have left them since they first started but no matter the time period, that is a lot of lost customers in anyone’s language.  In these figures will be a certain amount of natural attrition on their client base as offices close down but you have to wonder how many of these left  them because of performance issues.

I cant think of any reason this information should be in the public domain and it is just poor housekeeping by Domain IT staff.  If you were an REA salesperson and a new agent was considering one of the two portals this list would help sway them your way quickly.

There are a number of ways Domain can have these pages moved from the index very quickly but to date nobody seems to have bothered.  I reckon someone might get on the job pretty quickly now.

Domain really frustrate me because it often seems that they are happy to be second best at a time that the industry would love to see them put pressure on right around Australia.

Realestate.com.au attracts over 30% of their visitors from just one search engine… GOOGLE.  If you factor in the other search engines, particularly Yahoo and Live you could probably expect 35 to 45% of their visitors arrive through the search engines.

The vast majority of these visitors would arrive through organic results simply because they appear higher in the rankings. Search any “<<insert suburb>> real estate” combination in Google and REA will nearly always show up higher than domain.  In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen it the other way but I am sure it does somewhere.

Domain’s SEO needs work. Honestly it should not be that hard and they just need to get off their backsides and do something about it if they want to reverse the SERP positions.

Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind and hopefully someone at Domain sees this as a wakeup call and after fixing these inactive entries they start taking their search engine optimisation seriously. With Google on the scene and a better optimised Domain in fight it could get interesting.

Domain, Google, inactive, seo, Subscribers

SEO For Real Estate
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About Glenn Batten

Glenn Batten is the General Manager at First National Real Estate Nerang and Principal at the First National Real Estate Upper Coomera office and has over 20 years real estate experience and a passion for technology.

Glenn has been writing from an agents perspective on industry issues and covering a range of topics on Business2 since 2007.

94 Responses to Domain’s Little Secret!

  1. PaulD November 27, 2008 at 8:08 pm #

    OUCH !

  2. Lucas Ng November 28, 2008 at 10:21 am #

    @glenn. I look after the search and analytics team at Fairfax Digital. Great post, especially the inactive listings, which has been escalated to the relevant people. However, the latter portion of the post is less about cruelty and seems more about trolling for a reply…

    “Domain

  3. Louise Gorrie November 28, 2008 at 10:53 am #

    Agree! Was really surprised to discover REA had the bigger market share as I think Domain has the better product, but their SEO is really letting them down.

  4. PaulD November 28, 2008 at 12:01 pm #

    That goes some way to explain why they are giving away subscriptions for free in some areas. This is happening in areas where there is a competitor in the local print arena, and they give the subscription away for free, if the agents advertise in the local Domain publication. Mainly regional areas where they have bought into the local media, Rural Press etc.

  5. Glenn Batten November 29, 2008 at 10:23 am #

    The first stage of the cleanup has started with all the pages returning a “Page Not Found” when you click on them.

    Google will slowly remove them out of the index when it next retries each url. Other ways that can speed up the removal is to submit all of those urls either manually or via a purpose built xml file. This will speed up Google’s return to the page, thus removing it from the index when they find it is not there. Obviously the manual method would be quite slow in this case with 3370 pages to remove.

    The best way to remove pages that are no longer there is to use the “Remove URLs” feature in the Google Webmasters Panel. This will remove the pages asap.

    If you want to stop Google or any search engine from indexing something on your site then using a noindex meta tag or noindex entries in a robots.txt file however the only real way to make it totally secure is to place it behind a password or other protection system..

  6. Ash Nallawalla November 30, 2008 at 11:17 pm #

    I spent the weekend searching for and visiting investment properties so this is fresh in my mind. I just checked my browser history and I seem to have only selected domain.com.au two or three times from Google, but once in their system I looked at about 200 properties online. I also went to some specific agents

    My initial search was not ” real estate” but was a bunch of descriptive terms such as ” investment property near station”, “2 bedroom low maintenance flat ”

    It is tempting to critique SEO (or lack thereof) of large corporate sites but I have found that most of them cannot implement everything they know in a short timeframe. There are too many stakeholders who have inputs or there is never enough budget to replace a major CMS or enough developer time.

  7. Ash Nallawalla November 30, 2008 at 11:19 pm #

    Looks like my angle brackets were gobbled, but imagine a [location] in those search examples.

  8. Glenn Batten December 1, 2008 at 11:25 am #

    Lucas,

    Thanks for your post. It confirms much of what I was thinking.

    You said my claim that SEO it is “should not be that hard” is false yet you raise the allocation of finite resources as the problem with your implementation.

    Please understand I am not challenging the individual SEO operators at Domain, simply the fact that MORE SEO should be done. You and the SEO team have the whole fairfax network to look after and I am not questioning your abilities simply that you need to apply more of those abilities to the real estate portal.

    Don’t take it personally. When I say somebody at Domain needs to get off their backsides, you are stretching it to say I am specifically talking about the SEO team. I am not “insulting” you or your colleagues. I am more pointing fingers at the decision makers. Maybe they need to invest more money in the SEO dept.. maybe the allocation of staff resources to domain.com.au needs to be increased..

    I don’t think comparing your 30-35% to REA’s 30-35% is really kosher and is just playing with numbers for the hell of it. As you get more visitors through organic results they will return of their own accord and thus whilst your numbers will rise, your percentage of search visitors to the total will remain fairly static. They key is not improving the percentage, but the sheer numbers involved.

    Comparing metrics of inbound links, quality of links etc etc and saying your compare well with REA is all great but at the end of the day Domain.com.au is being beaten hands down by REA. That should be your final tell all metric. IMHO you should not forget the others but them in perspective. You can have the highest quality links from thousands of sites but if you are ranked 56th on the SERPS then it means nothing.

    My point is that it should be fairly simple to beat them (if they dont respond and up a gear themselves of course) it is just a matter of somebody somewhere making a decision. You are stating that your team has the talent, but needs more resources. Then somebody at Domain needs to fund the improvement.

    Thats the What!.. The How, Who and When is something I cant comment on… but thankfully you did.

    As far as the skills and tech IT IS as simple as I make it out… its the bean counters that get in the way! 🙂

    I know Domain is only part of your portfolio but I hope you get the support you need.

  9. Glenn December 2, 2008 at 10:16 am #

    I think a lot of REA’s advantage came from the exclusive deal with NineMSN, now that has been reversed watch this space, it will have an immediate and dramatic effect on Domains traffic, still a lot to catch up on REA but this is their first real opportunity to do that in years, time will tell if they can capitalize on it.

    Since Fairfax aquired my site, http://www.commercialrealestate.com.au in 06′ I’ve seen they have had problems in many areas but CRE has been top of Google for the search term …commercial real estate… now for over 10 years, now the direct links from NineMSN will boost their traffic significanly, commercial agents, enjoy !

    I still dont like Domains search engine, the suburb list is the way to go, not regions, fix that little roadblock between the listings and the searchers and watch the traffic flow increase further,

    Well done with this site Peter.

  10. Glenn Rogers December 2, 2008 at 10:44 am #

    So as not to confuse me with the other Glenn in here, there’s my surmane.

  11. snoop December 2, 2008 at 4:51 pm #

    No it wont
    Looking at Hitwise clickstream analysis Rea was getting neglible Value from Ninemsn,they wouldnt have stopped paying the big bucks if their was an ROI there would they??

  12. PaulD December 2, 2008 at 4:54 pm #

    Glenn Rogers,
    As I mentioned elsewhere in this blog, ( and I’m just a normal agent) our enquiry from REA when they were in MSN was around 6% of the total of the REA enquiry. I can’t see that it will make up that much in total numbers for Domain unless the public’s search habits change.

    Further, it’s interesting that you say that CRE has been on the top of the Google rankings and yet in the Oct Neilsen’s net ratings it runs a very distant 11th with 4,741 Ave Daily UBs. It follows such luminaries as Realcommercial (5th with 11,669 ADUB) Homehound (for now) with 11,481 REIWA (7th with 10,948) Ray White (8th with 8,613) etc etc.

    The two at the top Realestate.com.au 326,362 ADUBs and Domain with 120,281 seem to me to be so far in front ( Stayz is 3rd with 19,753) that there is very little chance that anyone can catch up – unless they are not on the list because they aren’t paying Neilsens to be there ? Even factoring in a 6% reduction to REA and adding it to Domain based on October, REA is still around 310,000 ADUBs and Domain goes up to around 140,000 the gap is still huge. I wonder how huge the costs for Domain are ??

  13. Glenn Rogers December 2, 2008 at 9:13 pm #

    NineMSN is still the most popular site in Australia last time I looked, may have changed, but that being the case I simply dont believe that this move will not have a major impact on the traffic for both sites.

    As far as CRE goes the agents were always telling me they got the best enquiry from CRE despite claims of higher traffic from RealCommercial, that may have changed I’m not in ther loop any more but my extensive experience on the front line tells me that the published stats are not to be taken as the true picture.

  14. Glenn Rogers December 2, 2008 at 9:37 pm #

    Just checked, on Google for a search on real estate both globally and AU CRE comes up 4th, for the term commercial real estate CRE comes up #1 and #2 both globally and AU

    Add NineMSN to that and you have a winner so where Realcommercial gets it’s traffic from I wouldn’t know.

  15. snoop December 3, 2008 at 8:00 am #

    domain would be paying well over 7 figs for Ninemsn!

  16. Glenn Rogers December 3, 2008 at 9:07 am #

    REA is a $500M company so it was worth it to them, is it a co incidence that REA have lost NineMSN after Simon Baker left ? I couldn’t see him letting that happen, but who knows.

    It’s not just the direct traffic from NineMSN can you imagine the 100’s of thousands of people who have bookmarked REA after finding them on NineMSN ?

    So the leap in traffic initially will be fine but the ongoing return traffic and branding makes 7 figures more than worth it.

    The big question is can Fairfax follow through now they have this opportunity ?

    REA was run by a smart man with a heavy financial interest in REA, Domain’s people don’t have that incentive.

    Domain should have been #1 all along they have absolutely no excuse they had all the worthwhile newspapers to back them up, they had far more advantages than REA except the domain name.

    So what went wrong ?

    Sam Plowman came with a great attitude and ideas and left within a year. What would have driven him to that ?

    Great shame, Fairfax handed it all to REA on a platter, I bet they couldn’t believe their luck.

  17. PaulD December 3, 2008 at 10:00 am #

    Glenn R, as I also mentioned recently, Fairfax made a couple of odd acquisitions. They bought a couple of newspaper based media companies in regional areas, and paid plenty. Then they rebranded the real estate advertising sections as “Domain” and expected the regional agents to come running. That didn’t happen, so they gave the website subscriptions away for nothing to entice the agents to advertise in their publication, and lo and behold, we have a financial crisis and advertising revenues drop.

    Now, I’m not pushing anyone’s barrow, but it seems to me that the publications have got them in trouble, and the website as a result of that, and News Ltd don’t seem to have the same exposure with respect to realestate.com.au as Fairfax do with Domain. I also believe REA dumped Ninemsn, not the other way around, but I don’t know for sure. Can anyone shed some light on that one ?

    As far as Ninemsn goes – yes, a couple of years ago it was all the rage, but not anymore it seems. According to the Hitwise ranking of Australian searches for October Ninemsn ranks 10th on .11% after facebook, ebay, myspace, youtube, bebo, you tube, hotmail, yahoo, and even white pages ranks higher than ninemsn. The social networking websites have swamped ninemsn. In terms of search engine dominance, according to Hitwise in Australia ranked by volume of searches, Google have 90.57% – there’s not much room for anyone else with those numbers

  18. Glenn Rogers December 3, 2008 at 11:18 am #

    I presume NineMSN are still the default SE for all new PC’s with windows and IE preloaded so thats a sizable chunk of traffic.

    Everyone would use Google for search BUT the thing with NineMSN is that they have direct links to their partners and those links are bombarded 24/7

    I cant understand why Fairfax bought TradeMe for $700M NZD, then again I’m not a bean counter, they could have bought REA for less, then again they probably wouldn’t know how to run it properly.

    They could have kept Simon Baker on doubled his salary and still been in front.

    Perhaps REA dumpred NineMSN because they figured they didnt need them, foolish move in my opinion.

  19. Sale Espro December 3, 2008 at 1:14 pm #

    Glenn R, you don’t seem to be following info like PauID and others who say that NineMSN doesn’t provide much traffic any more. I’m sorry, but your suppositions and references to past history viz. FIGJAM (easier than “I’m the guru just ask me”) Baker, are superseded here by facts 🙂

  20. snoop December 3, 2008 at 1:40 pm #

    cost per click prob 3 times what you would pay on acquiring a google customer.
    Add to that ninemsn customers a prob more renters than buyers.
    I think they did the right thing in dropping it.

  21. Glenn Rogers December 3, 2008 at 2:07 pm #

    Baker was the guru wasn’t he ? turned REA from nothing into a $500M company, there’s a fact for you.

  22. Glenn Batten December 3, 2008 at 4:47 pm #

    Lets be clear on a few things here. The default search engine is Live. It is not Ninemsn.

    One section relegated to near the end of the menu on the Ninemsn portal is “Property”. It is not nor has it ever been a major feature of the ninemsn portal. As far as the portal is concerned it is an income stream only, which can be evidenced by their association with REA and now Domain despite MS connections with the old MyHome.

    Ninemsn is a portal that uses the Live search. It is the default home page for many however the numbers indicate that one of the highest searches on the Ninemsn Live search engine is for the word Google (or can you believe it http://www.google.com!) so Ninemsn users can use the search features of Google instead of Live.

    Google alone represent 39.69% of our traffic whereas Live represents just 2.34% (from 1/1/08 to present).

    One thing that is interesting is that only around 55% of Ninemsn’s traffic is Australian. That is probably because many of their news stories are picked up and viewed around the world on sites like Google News.

    Google has fought hard against Microsofts dominance with things like backing Firefox, releasing their own browser called Chrome, creating iGoogle etc etc.. google news, google reader etc etc all carefully selected and constructed to get users away from the MS “default”.

  23. Glenn Rogers December 3, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    The default homepage for IE which is preloaded on all PC’s sold in Australia with Windows is NineMSN is it not ?, it used to be.

    If thats still the case you’re confusing search with links from the most popular web site in Australia, NineMSN is force fed on every PC buyer in Australia, thats what I’m talking about, not search, Google has that sown up.

    You say you get more from Google search than MSN search, of course you do thats always been the case but do you track what comes to you from REA via NineMSN ? AND of course all those who bookmarked REA over the years after finding them on NineMSN, I think you greatly under estimate NineMSN’s influence.

    REA must have dropped NineMSN simply to save money same as closing down their NZ operation.

  24. Glenn Batten December 3, 2008 at 5:30 pm #

    Glenn

    I take it that post was directed at me as it seems to reference parts of my last post.

    You have your opinions I respect that and whilst many of your opinions I personally disagree with that was not the purpose of the last post.

    You said “I presume NineMSN are still the default SE for all new PC”. You did not say it was the default homepage and it was pretty clear that you were interchanging Ninemsn and Microsoft Live which whilst being associated are two different beasts.

    I was simply trying to clear that up so everyone understood.

    As you said, Ninemsn are force fed on many users but not in the numbers it use to.

    The sheer number of “portals” all asking you to set them as your homepage has increased out of site. Just about everyone runs a portal from local community sites, to the ABC all the way up to TV Shows.

    Name brand PC manufacturers now all operate their own portals which they preload as the default changing xp or vista’s default.

    Because Google is just so popular (90% plus is a pretty big dominance), many people just use one of their products as their homepage especially iGoogle which is a personal portal. REA jumped on this bandwagon creating gadgets for many of googles products.

    Social networking has evolved to a point that they are now effectively a all in one personal networking portal perfect as a homepage. Just Facebook alone has more Australian unique visitors per day than Ninemsn and they are still growing at over 140% per year in Australia over recent months.

    Many of these portals remind users “to make (insert portal name) your homepage” so whilst lots of users start out with Ninemsn, they lose most of them very quickly.

    REA dropped Ninemsn because of one thing … ROI

    Like most businesses they will pay virtually anything if it returns on their investment at a high enough rate. Ninemsn is stable in traffic numbers whilst other options soar. Every day thousands of people first turn on their pc with Ninemsn loaded, but as their traffic has not increased, just as many must be turning them off.. Simple maths..

    Property on Ninemsn is worth something… but its clearly not worth what they were asking to REA. Domain got it at a price that they think is worth it. Did they pay what REA was.. I doubt it.. but I have no idea.

    I, and apparently a few others in this industry think you grossly over estimate Ninemsn’s influence on real estate in Australia. I have listened to your argument and my position has not changed, as yours probably wont after listening to mine. Such is life 🙂

  25. Sale Espro December 3, 2008 at 5:31 pm #

    Glenn R,

    ‘Guru’ is way too powerful a descriptor for someone who didn’t create anything or have any special insight into anything.

    We’ve discussed the S baker ‘guru’ thang enough in this blogoportal previously. I think the upshot was that he inherited a going concern with some $millions invested by Macquarie and News.

    That REA is still a pretty ordinary portal that creams agents and users alike is testimony to its move to acquire its nemesis, the original Property.com.au and so gain the critical volume it needed to dominate the ‘landscape’.

    I’d rather talk about what agents can do to get rid of all portals.

    🙂

  26. PaulD December 3, 2008 at 6:22 pm #

    Interesting, Glenn Batten. I wasn’t aware that Live was the Ninemsn search engine. So after Google at 90.57% comes Live at 3.83% and third is yahoo with 2.3%. The rest of the world makes up the final 3.3%. That’s the numbers from Hitwise in Oct. this year anyway. Mind you Domain didn’t start with Ninemsn until the beginning of December, so fairly shortly, the numbers will be out there to debate. As I said earlier, I think search habits need to change drastically for there to be much change to those numbers.

  27. Glenn Rogers December 3, 2008 at 6:43 pm #

    Glenn B – all portals worth their salt have been asking people to make them their home page for years but people dont usually do it, the only thing that would turn people away from NineMSN is their form of popup ads which has just gone over the top.

    “””You said

  28. Glenn Rogers December 3, 2008 at 6:45 pm #

    “””I’d rather talk about what agents can do to get rid of all portals.”””

    Well they had their chance but with the exception of Victoria i think their Institutes let them down.

  29. SSSR December 3, 2008 at 7:03 pm #

    I think PaulD has a good point. Search habits are the major factor.

    My view is that REA have sufficient consumer traction, and have had so for some time now, that NineMSN could do little for them. I also agree (speculate) the decision came from REA after they reviewed their expenditure and assessed the ROI.

    Consumer habits are the hardest to break. I use REA because I know it and I have used it for years. There might be a better portal out there and some think Domain has a better user interface. But I am concerned with two things:

    1. I dont want to use a portal that doesnt have all the listings because I am concerned I will miss one of particular interest.

    2. I will use the site that I have always used, for no other reason than it meets all the needs I have for that function.

    The only purpose I can see NineMSN serving is to attract new users who do not know you exist. Everyone else will continue to go either directly to their preferred portal, or find it via Google.

  30. Glenn Rogers December 3, 2008 at 8:44 pm #

    <>

    I always use both, have the email notifications, the listings are not always the same so it’s a must to use both.

  31. Craig Adams December 3, 2008 at 10:48 pm #

    Glenn R

    Two points.

    Ninemsn is fast becoming the ugly girl at the school prom in that none of the big players in the online verticals see the same value they got two years ago so they don’t want to do the same dance they did back then.

    Seek will not renew in 2009 so there must be some method in the madness if both of the No 1’s pull out. Glenn B is right in that REA look like they have made an outright decision that for more than 7 figures the ROI is just not there.

    Good luck to Domain but they will struggle to see any tangible gain in traffic to justify their investment in my opinion. Time will tell as you have stated Glenn R but it could be another money down the dunny decisions from Fairfax…I wish they would get their act together and offer agents a viable alternative or at least pick an innovative angle rather than being happy with being the perenial bridesmaid.

    Second point is I’m sick of hearing about S. Baker being talked about as a guru as well. The more you talk to REA people, yes I talk to some of them in the tech environment, the more you realize that he’d had his time as things were starting to get dropped and missed all over the place. They all seem quite happy with the new guy who is picking up the pieces from Baker looking too far too soon as opposed to looking after his original and best asset, the Australian Real Estate Agent.

  32. Glenn Batten December 3, 2008 at 11:53 pm #

    Glenn,

    Somethings that have not been raised yet are

    5 senior executives including the CEO have resigned from NineMSN in just 3 months recently. It seems Ninemsn is not doing much right lately.

    and

    Sensis finally woke up and jumped into bed with Google. Google gets the Yellow Pages directory to integrate into Google Maps, and Sensis gets the Google Search Engine and advertising network for sensis.com.au and bigpond.com.

    Yahoo’s advertising got the boot from sensis and truelocal will lose all their listings on google maps.

    This has to be the best thing Sensis has done online in a long time.

  33. Glenn Rogers December 4, 2008 at 8:57 am #

    Craig and Glenn, thanks for the update I must have been too busy having a break from it all over the past 3 years to see these changes.

    When you’re out of the loop it doesn’t take long to lose touch.

    It will be still be interesting to see the difference in traffic over the next few months for Domain, I dont have access to these figures anymore so perhaps one of you could let us all know how it’s going.

  34. snoop December 4, 2008 at 3:59 pm #

    interesting comment on the institutes.
    I struggle to see why they should invest agent funds into portals.
    Its a bit like the USA where their are hundreds of MLS S all over the country whose primary reason for existance is paying the ceo and exec team, they should merge but its all about job preservation.
    The institutes here should have a strong lobbying ang training and compliance business NOT be media portals.

  35. Glenn Rogers December 5, 2008 at 11:15 am #

    Well it seems Kirk has resigned and Fairfax are in a trading halt, this will be interesting.

  36. Robert Simeon December 5, 2008 at 12:42 pm #

    It will be a very tough year in 2009 for both Faifax Media and Cumberland newspapers especially in print. At this point it is highly unlikely that vendors will pay for expensive marketing campaigns over a month. Rather I foresee that they will spead one months advertising over three months. Smaller ads that offer greater longevity as it is taking much longer to sell properties today given the economic climate.

  37. Glenn Batten December 5, 2008 at 12:45 pm #

    We are already noticing huge drops in the number of real estate pages in our area. The larger expensive ads just are not so popular any more!

  38. Sale Espro December 5, 2008 at 2:13 pm #

    1. Exackery, Snoop!

    God forbid any real business ever employing any of the REI Chief executives e.g. Raimondo in Vic is dangerous in the way he wields himself around as a real estate authority making comments on reasons for market downturns and market forecasts when he is just another snout in the trough of member funds.

    2. Kirk may have been a jumped-up corporate player but no matter what with Fairfax’s dire position they needed a fall guy. It will be interesting to watch McCarthy at work in the competitive metro market place. Rural Press from whence he came had no competition except in Vic where they were trounced by News’ Weekly Times. And he showed no foresight in his dealings as a 1/5 partner in The Farmshed rural portal he caused to close-down (early in the century) so it wouldn’t canabalise Rural Press’ revenue.

  39. Robert Simeon December 5, 2008 at 2:20 pm #

    Just read this on the http://www.crikey.com.au newsletter ;-

    10 . Tips and rumours

    Mark Scott, MD of the ABC, should be on your shortlist to replace Fairfax CEO David Kirk. It’s what Scott’s been angling for, every since he got to the ABC… a return to Fairfax as head banana. Look back on the way he has driven (and I mean driven) the ABC’s surge in digital media content and delivery platforms… most recently at the expense of Radio National. It’s where Fairfax has wanted to be for ages but hasn’t been able to pull it off. Scott will ditch the ABC in an instant for the Fairfax gig.

    This gets more interesting 🙂

  40. Sale Espro December 5, 2008 at 2:23 pm #

    My money’s on McCarthy.
    Fairfax *thinks* it has too much to lose in not using McCarthy – they’re not corporately creative enough to take-on a Digi as CEO – Besides, they would think they have a good Digi in Jack Matthews (the Yank) already.

  41. Robert Simeon December 5, 2008 at 2:32 pm #

    Sale – I agree 100% with you on that assumption. Big Mac is the front runner and John B Fairfax’s right hand man. I just read an interesting article on http://www.businessspectator.co m.au by ex-Fairfax journalist Stephen Bartholomeusz and what a spin this is – here is the interesting play on the Fairfax – Rural Press merger.

    “The departure of Kirk, if McCarthy is given permanency and even more particularly if John B were to replace Walker, will confirm what many suspected when the Rural Press deal was done. It was probably only a matter of time and a few Fairfax stumbles before the takeover of Rural Press by Fairfax morphed into a reverse takeover of Fairfax by Rural Press.”

  42. Craig December 5, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    “I

  43. Sale Espro December 5, 2008 at 3:10 pm #

    Sure Craig,

    But just a portal by another name/mechanism. Google already has this capability too. (I have actually used Google’s tools to create what you have just described ) 🙂
    It comes down to the chicken or the egg in so much as agents need to support alternatives if they really want to start to break away from the bullying ogre!

    Rgds,
    Sal 🙂

  44. SSSR December 5, 2008 at 3:26 pm #

    I hear that McCarthy has just been given the role??

  45. Robert Simeon December 5, 2008 at 3:28 pm #

    Craig,

    I believe that next year will see an entirely different landscape in real estate as the economic downturn delivers the perfect vehicle for online to grab much more attention purely from an economies of scale basis.

    And Google will be right in the mix and a strong possibility that it will be the number one property online address by the end of 2009.

  46. Robert Simeon December 5, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    SSR,

    I was under the impression that it had to be ratified by the Board when they meet next Wednesday?

  47. Craig December 5, 2008 at 3:34 pm #

    Sale,

    “But just a portal by another name/mechanism.”

    I think there are two major differences to a portal.

    1. It costs nothing to get on it. I think some portals are going down this road now like MyHome.
    2. But the big difference is that the aim of a portal is to create a destination where you can do everything and possibly never leave. REA seems to want to be a one stop shop for everything real estate. A search engine on the other hand is just helping you find properties, even if they are on another site and will take you there.

    ” agents need to support alternatives if they really want to start to break away from the bullying ogre”

    Thats the real problem.

  48. Sale Espro December 5, 2008 at 3:43 pm #

    The real Fairfax blue will come between Big Ronnie (Walker) and Fairfax himself who may well want the Chair.
    Ronnie has a few $mill in shares but nothing like Fairfax. My guess is they’ll work it out with Ronnie, “I have no problem with conflicts of interest. I have always had conflicts of interest”, leaving when it looks like he hasn’t been pushed.

    Anyhow, how does it help us all?

    Not much relevance, I would think. Except that McCarthy always wants to get a premium for whatever he sells.

  49. SSSR December 5, 2008 at 4:05 pm #

    Robert, yes I read a little further and they indicated the board sign off process. I think an over exuberant journalist, in the article I was reading, was stating McCarthy all but had the job.

  50. snoop December 7, 2008 at 7:21 pm #

    Google may well become the default property search over two to three years.
    Agents have diluted their own brands by using the listing portals especialy on the online space.
    REA will react as they have a lot to lose.
    Reality is people will trust the brand,google will have a lot of duplication and no real control over bogus listings etc.
    Print well expect more integration.
    Portals will also move into building more community based functions,advice,research ,services and try and make all these a more integrated and wholistic experience for buyers.
    I think less focus on any ad for revenues sake and more on delivering value to consumers.

  51. Sale Espro December 8, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    Snoop,

    Could agree with you more on,
    “Agents have diluted their own brands by using the listing portals especialy on the online space.”

    Print had nowhere near the power of competitive branding of the online portals.

    As an aside, REView is now expanding into all states wkith the REI’s except Qld. However, that still won’t solve anything for agents as they are still paying sizeable monthly fees and aren’t offering as much value to the public (buyers and vendors) as REA or Domain. And even if *all* agents used them (which they never will), they still won’t be able to get any worthwhile market-share.

    Agents need to put a lot more effort into their own websites and service offerings.

  52. Glenn Rogers December 8, 2008 at 2:13 pm #

    “Agents have diluted their own brands by using the listing portals especialy on the online space”

    Not altogether true –

    When an agent uses Domain , yes that’s a brand that overlays their own.

    When an agent uses realestate or say commercialrealestate they are using generic names that do not compete with their own brand, those names are not brands they are what the user is looking for, if you can understand the difference.

    The user then looks past the generic name onto the agents brands, unspoiled by another brand being in front of theirs.

  53. SSSR December 8, 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    I have to say that any institute or private company that tries to compete with Domain or REA by providing a product that does extactly the same thing is wasting time and money.

    The portal market is mature. A free portal or a portal that only slightly differentiates itself with sales history data or something like that is not going to motivate anyone to change from a proven website to an unknown.

    People should stop thinking that just because agents are frustrated with the lack of customer service REA provides that means they are going to jump onto a new portal just because its free.

    Instead people should be looking at what the market currently does not provide. What problems exist that need solving? What is the next evolution in the online space? Once those questions are answered, research the crap out of it and then, with your deep pockets, give it a damn good go.

  54. Greg Vincent December 8, 2008 at 6:55 pm #

    Apart from Google, there’s two very powerful websites that could have a major effect on the real estate industry. ie. ebay & YouTube.

    Here is an interesting article from the UK http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/3359164/The-eBay-way-to-sell-your-home.html about how a couple of people used (and I mean used) the agents to provide the market appraisals but then to save the agent’s commission they uploaded their properties onto ebay & YouTube.

    With markets tightening consumers are going to be looking to save money wherever they can.

    Here’s a link to ebay’s Home Seller’s Guide http://pages.ebay.com/realestate/homesellerguide.html. where they state thatthey have over 370,000 property page views per day & are quoting that “There are now over 4,364 real estate properties sold on eBay Real Estate every month and thousands more are listed using our ad format!”

    At present, within YouTube real estate seems to occupy a very small percentage of the actual number of videos they have online, but as real estate agents & sellers become more in tune with using video marketing for their properties, we should see the use of this online space for real estate increase quite rapidly.

    From the naked eye, it appears that REA & Domain seem to have done very little to accommodate the use of video within their sites. To locate a video on a property is almost the last thing that a browser would find on any agents’ listings.

    With Real Estate 2.0, video will become more and more popular and the major portals will need to make video more prominent on their sites or they will lose their viewers over to video portals like, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.

    If they want longer visitor time on their sites & to help provide a more interactive experience for their clients, I believe they will need to have the video button displayed more towards the top of the listing not down where the More Photos button and Virtual Tour buttons are currently located.

    Video streaming is very different to the previous use of Virtual Tours, because a browser had to remain on the portal or the agent’s company website to access the Virtual Tour, now instead they can go onto a more popular site like YouTube to see the video of the property.

  55. snoop December 8, 2008 at 8:52 pm #

    Well Trademe in NZ have validated that.
    They are clearly Number one in traffic in NZ for property.
    Not so sure if EBAY AU could do the same.
    After all they left the NZ opportunity to Trademe.

  56. Glenn Batten December 9, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    Glenn Rogers,

    I can’t believe that you are suggesting that realestate.com.au is not a brand but a generic name that compliments the agents brand…

    You are kidding!!!!

    Why did they trademark realestate.com.au to stop people from using it? Not only that why did they send letters to other companies with the words realestate.com.au in their domain name asking them to cease and desist?

    Why have they “branded” newspaper sections with realestate.com.au all over them?

    Your kidding yourself if you think that realestate.com.au is not a brand in our industry. They are the epitome of a brand.

    Check out their press releases whereby they specifically state marketing initiatives are to “enhance realestate.com.au’s brand image” as in http://www.realestate.com.au/doc/about_us/NPR_AU/Releases/PR_Dont_Rely_On_Fate.htm

  57. Glenn Batten December 9, 2008 at 5:11 pm #

    Snoop,

    Trademe works with directly with agents on volume plans. Ebay.com.au is still targeted to the private seller. In fact Real Estate auctions on ebay are not even binding and in the words of ebay are “simply a way for sellers to advertise their real estate and meet potential buyers”. ie. they are an ad.

    With regard to Trademe, I am not going to dispute that they are a major portal for the real estate industry however their number 1 status for real estate might be a bit of furphy. Go and type in the word “Spa” and it will return spas for sale as well as houses for sale with a spa. All of those “hits” that show up for houses with a spa get racked up to real estate when clearly that may not be the intention of the searcher.

    Ebay and Trademe treat Real Estate fundamentally different and ebay would need major changes before they could emulate Trademe’s success.

  58. Glenn Rogers December 9, 2008 at 6:43 pm #

    Glenn B, you dont understand the concept of a brand versus a generic name, sure REA have treated their name as a brand but the real value of it lies in the fact that it is generic.

    People search for “real estate” not domain or anything else, they search for “commercial real estate” not “real commercial”

    They remember the generic name not the others.

    Look at the search engine results for generic V others.

    You’ve probably never looked at it from that angle before, I find the people who dont understand the value of generic domain names are those that don’t have them.

  59. Glenn Batten December 9, 2008 at 8:26 pm #

    Glenn R,

    Why makes you think I don’t understand it??? Because I don’t agree with you? Thats a bit self centered isn’t it?

    I never disputed the value of generic names.. you just assumed I did..

    realestate.com.au is a BRAND that also happens to be generic name.

    What I did question is statements you made, specifically “those names are not brands” and “the user then looks past the generic name onto the agents brands”.

    I DISAGREE on both accounts.

    If it is all about a generic domain name as you claim rather than brand then http://www.property.com.au would be more popular than it is. It;s not promoted or even pushed as a brand yet as a generic name it does very poorly in the scheme of things.. It gets traffic when you search “property” because of the SEO value of the generic name.

    A generic name helps in SEO and recall factor but thats it. Don’t get me wrong, both of those things are important.. but they are just one factor of why a site gets traffic.

    The market leader in the New Zealand, US and UK markets is not the local generic name version as your claims would have us believe.

    I am sure you like justifying your “commercialrealestate.com.au” but the name does not make the site. The realestate.com.au site is the leader because of hundreds of factors and their name is only one of them.

    That’s my opinion. I am not arrogant enough to state that as a bunch of facts that you don’t understand. 🙂

    At the end of your post you linked the previously mentioned “don’t understand” to those that “don’t have them’. I believe you are implying that I dont have a generic named website and if that is the case you have assumed wrong. I have created and maintain 34 websites. 5 for our agency, 18 for other real estate concerns, 2 for friends and 9 personal sites. Many of those are based on a generic name.

  60. Glenn Rogers December 9, 2008 at 8:50 pm #

    Real estate is a generic name, if they choose to brand it also thats a matter for them.

    Is refrigerator a brand ? Is car a brand ?

    Property is not just real estate it’s anything owned by anybody, not nearly as important as real estate.

    <>

    They’re the most important factors.

    <>

    That was the one single factor that made the site.

    You just donr get it but thats no reason to get all upset.

    Almost without exception people who havent got generic domain names get all flustered when confronted by a simple truth, they dont understand and they go all strange.

  61. Glenn Rogers December 9, 2008 at 8:51 pm #

    There were quotes in there that this system just doesnt see so it looks a bit strange.

  62. Glenn Rogers December 9, 2008 at 8:55 pm #

    Take 2….

    Real estate is a generic name, if they choose to brand it also thats a matter for them.

    Is refrigerator a brand ? Is car a brand ?

    Property is not just real estate it

  63. Glenn Rogers December 9, 2008 at 9:13 pm #

    And by the way Glenn R –

    “I am sure you like justifying your

  64. Glenn Rogers December 9, 2008 at 9:14 pm #

    Typo, Glenn B, no edit function in here ?

  65. Sale Espro December 9, 2008 at 9:58 pm #

    Just to fuel your spat, guys 🙂

    What do you think would happen if Property.com.au was marketed again?
    One reason it is currently on ‘sleep’ program could be so it doesn’t compete with its (purchasing) parent, REA. (Which would fit-in with Glenn R’s perspective).
    However, nothing is ever successful without promotion and SEO is just another type of promotion. (Which fits-in with Glenn B’s perspective).

    Ps Glenn R,
    I am old enough to remember Property.com.au being THE first and dominant portal for *all* real estate. In fact, it was begun by agreement with *all* the CEO’s of the major commercial real estate agents and some major residential thrown in: including Colliers, Richard Ellis, JLW, TBM, etc… (Let’s not worry too much about REI relationships etc at the moment). Stand-alone commercial portals came along a fair whle later and weren’t very successful at all, ever, as I recall, in terms of consumer visits. They did end-up getting a fair degree of major agency support however.
    And Property.com.au was national even before the Netscape browser was launched And THEN it was dominant after trasnferring to the web and becoming the first national portal of any type (not just real estate), before REA began in its garage (sans Mr. Baker 🙂 REA came along and competed well (not with its brand but with its ‘hits’-deals. Then, *just* before going bust while Property.com.au was still thriving, got some $funding from Macquarie and News which eventually resulted in it buying-out its nemesis, Property.com.au. (Why the reverse didn’t happen and other stories are for another time)
    (A little factual history can never hurt, can it ? )
    Hope this helps fellas…, it’s fun ‘listening’ 🙂

  66. Glenn Batten December 10, 2008 at 10:16 am #

    Glenn R,

    I see your a believer in quantity not quality so don’t get too excited now. As to myself, I am not getting upset, far from it…. just entertained 🙂 I always am when people confuse their opinion with facts and somehow I dont think your coming to grips that it is your opinion that it is not a brand.

    So as far as your concerned realestate.com.au is a brand now but only if they choose it. Clearly in your mind though they can

  67. Robert Simeon December 10, 2008 at 10:41 am #

    Maybe a generic brand ? 🙂

  68. Glenn Rogers December 10, 2008 at 10:41 am #

    It’s my fault for putting forward a proposition to, as it turns out, you, who doesn’t get it and therefore attacks it.

    It’s that failure among so many that made it so easy for me to be successful. Thank you so much.

    I’m not going to argue with you on this, there’s no point.

  69. Sale Espro December 10, 2008 at 2:07 pm #

    Just a snippet further to the previous discussion on Google , Trademe & eBay, domain is what you get when you click
    on eBay real estate

    Ps We are looking at what is the best online CRM provider. What do you all think? (Do any of the big providers provide anything worthwhile – Hubonline, Portplus, R.E.View …Others? )

    Hubonline suggests that there are some ‘core’ functions required but we have yet to decide just what ‘core’ we need. Your feedback would be appreciated.

    Thx,
    Sal 🙂

  70. snoop December 10, 2008 at 2:28 pm #

    Take a look at renet.com.au

  71. Sale Espro December 10, 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    Thx snoop. I had a look. I wish they had something on their website actually showing what their ‘Property profile’ (e.g. for a prospective buyer) works/looks.
    I wonder it can provide and whether most agents use an automated letter/email generator for particular events to prospects on the dbase e.g. Opens and forthcoming auctions etc? I don’t think our group is going to be much interested in prospecting-type letters and flyers etc

    Is that what you would think?

    Thx,
    Sal 🙂

  72. Sale Espro December 10, 2008 at 2:54 pm #

    Ps We have a chain of offices with varying abilities so we’re really just looking at the important ‘core’ functions. What do practitioners ‘out there’ think they are with respect to CRM (as distinct from the portal push + other services)?

  73. Glenn Batten December 10, 2008 at 3:09 pm #

    Sal

    There are some other options you might want to check out here..

    http://www.australianrealestatesoftware.com/Real-Estate-Sales-Administration-Software.html

    Let me know if you find some I don’t have as I am trying to create a resource directory for agents.

    As far as I am aware, (and I am prepared to be proven wrong) there is no Australian web based real estate software that does a good job with CRM. You would have to go to installed software for more advanced CRM. Simple mail merging to bulk contacts for opens and auctions manually triggered should be covered by most though.

  74. SSSR December 10, 2008 at 3:28 pm #

    Dont know whether SugarCRM is a worthwhile look. Open source. Only the cost of someone to set it up and host it. Web-based so freely accessible.

  75. Sale Espro December 10, 2008 at 4:17 pm #

    Very good of you guys.
    (Will do Glenn – doesn’t seem to be anything to write home about thus far though).

    We will stay clear of open source though SSSR. Uncle Bill might be the anti-Christ to many (though I think Google has now taken the crown), but as old timers we are comfortable with his strong, proven (boring) software 🙂

  76. Coastal Agent December 10, 2008 at 4:21 pm #

    We used a program now called ‘Edge Advantage’ for many years and i’d rate it very highly. Unfortunately we got sold on another package and when that contract is up we’ll probably go back.

  77. SSSR December 10, 2008 at 6:29 pm #

    You dont like open source Sal?

  78. Sal Espro December 11, 2008 at 7:39 am #

    Hi ‘Coastal’,

    I’ve been researching simple (online) CRM’s.
    Out of interest, did you / would you have considered the option of using a module of one online program while still using another? Even if both couldn’t be integrated? e.g. We really don’t want the hassle of leaving our real estate ‘hosting’ service (and obviously other services that come with that), but are considering using another stand-alone service from another provider in addition (that will need to patch their function into our website). This would involve us using two systems at times (but for specific functions). How does that sound to everyone? Has anyone tried that situation?

    Thx,
    Sal

  79. Coastal Agent December 11, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    Sal, we wouldn’t if we could avoid it at all! How much of a pain in the butt and backwards step would it be to be doubling up (data entry & updating). Unfortunately, it does seem very hard to avoid though. It shouldn’t be! At the moment we are using the crm solution attached to our property management software, it’s ok but far from ideal. I can’t work out how if YesBookit can integrate a holiday website to back end sql databases in our office why someone can’t integrate a solution where once someone enquires about a property online or joins our mailing list their details are recorded into our in house crm software and the website and back end software are fully integrated.

    Now, if someone (ie. Console, or Rockend) could get that going in addition to quality property management software & sales crm with bulk uploads that worked properly they could literally tie the market up.

  80. Glenn Batten December 11, 2008 at 10:34 am #

    The last thing you would want to do is run your crm totally separate and unconnected from your admin. In fact the major reason I see problems with agencies and their CRM is that they use a solution where the CRM is tacked on. You can do bulk emails, or letters, you can send individual emails etc.. Some even allow you to apply pre-programmed trails. What makes them fail is human nature. If the reliance of pre-programmed activity and contact trails or status changes relies upon staff members remembering to do it, the “I forgot” rate will be that high and it would take that long to fix and contacts will be getting the wrong emails or letters that most agencies abandon it.

    If you want to allocate preprogrammed trails you ideally want an admin package that when you change the status in your admin (ie. from an appraisal to a listing or a from a prospective buyer to a purchaser) that the system changes your CRM pre programmed activities.

    You may not want to go down the road, but if you do, make sure the software handles that problem or all you will be doing is creating more problems. If you are just after basic CRM features then Portplus comes to mind. Not perfect but better than most and has a bunch of optional extras.

    Personally I would like to see an administration package that admits its only average at CRM and instead allows integration with a professional CRM package like SugarCRM or Salesforce.

  81. SSSR December 11, 2008 at 11:02 am #

    Glenn, the good think about Sugar is you can develop APIs for it to communicate with just about any other software. We use it in our business and have it integrated, via and API, into our Project Management System. A seamless process that then links to SaaSu for a entirely automated process.

  82. Glenn Batten December 11, 2008 at 11:04 am #

    I hear you don’t worry… but it takes two to tango and the other software has to allow the integration and take advantage of it.

    Imagine if some of the real estate admin packages did that ?

  83. Scott Schindler December 11, 2008 at 1:17 pm #

    Hi Sal

    Good news! Although ReNet.com.au is guilty of providing advanced solutions for clients and neglecting our own websites, we have grown to manage almost 400 billion dollars worth of real estate across Australia with our current marketing material. Nonetheless and after many years, this is about to change as we lead into 09.

    Please contact the head office (02 6658 8767) as I would love to personally give you a demonstration of ReNet.com.au thus enabling you to experience first hand some of the powerful Real Estate solutions we provide to the industry.

    Regards

    Scott Schindler
    CEO
    ReNet.com.au

  84. Peter Ricci December 11, 2008 at 3:05 pm #

    Scott, we have a rule here that we do not allow blatant self promotion.

    I am sure your products are amazing, but B2 is not the place!

    By all means add something to the site, but please refrain from posting the above again.

  85. Sale Espro December 11, 2008 at 3:56 pm #

    You haven’t done yourself any favours in this forum with that waste of a non-comment. It makes me think of you as a petty corner, two dime hawker (which doesn’t say much for your enterprise!) and I think the moderator (Peter or Glenn?) owes it to the rest of us to delete your try-hard post!

    Sal 🙁

  86. Sale Espro December 11, 2008 at 3:57 pm #

    That was supposed to be;
    Scott from ReNet,
    You haven

  87. Sale Espro December 11, 2008 at 4:00 pm #

    Ps What a tugger! Why would someone refer to the gross value of property agents manage on a piece of software rather than the number of clients?! 🙂

  88. Sale Espro December 11, 2008 at 4:01 pm #

    Pps Thanx Coastal, Glenn and SSSR for your insight.
    Sal

  89. Scott Schindler December 11, 2008 at 5:29 pm #

    Sorry Peter, I was not aware of the rule and was responding to the Questions Sale raised!

    Sale, my apologies if I offended you and I hope your research goes well.

    Scotty

  90. Sale Espro December 11, 2008 at 7:57 pm #

    Coastal,

    Sorry for so many recent post everyone but
    YesBookit isn’t magic.
    You’ve got to ‘feed’ them an REA XML and then you have to have your website ‘master’ create a new property ebrochure template to display the ‘Is it available’ and then another to accept the YesBookit XML feed back into your own new ebrochures (for the calendar etc)

    (They must have a compelling business case for anyone to undertake the time, bother and cost of all this!!)

  91. Coastal Agent December 12, 2008 at 1:49 pm #

    Sal, you don’t need to feed them anything from REA. I’m not suggesting YesBookit would be a suitable suggestion, just the pricipal that they link our holiday website directly into our software inside the office giving a more complete package. No, it’s not magic! and I believe the system could be used for sales but I wouldn’t touch it for that purpose. It’s an excellent holiday rental system, thats all.

    The theory is a good one and one that could be applied by website creators to make a complete real estate solution.

    BTW, I don’t agree with shameless self promotion either but if people are getting up Scott from renet they should also be getting up Phil from Sherlock in the more recent post ‘some changes at hubonline’

  92. Sale Espro December 12, 2008 at 2:11 pm #

    Coastal,
    1.YesBookit takes a feed from your site in the same manner that REA does. It then feeds data back to where your webmaster has programmed an ‘acceptance’ area e.g. new ebrochures.

    2. The problem in adding ‘external’ sales type modules to your existing system is that like YesBookit you have got to get your current web master/host e.g. Hubonline and Portplus, to do stuff and while they might agree to adding some non-competitive booking programming (and charging handsomely for it too!), they won’t do it for competing products.

  93. Charlotte exclusive buyer agent December 14, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    This is an interesting topic. i agree with Simeon. I also think there will be a different scenario in real estate. online searching will be more useful. Google will be able to create more strong position in that case. in real estate world it will definitely will be the number one property online address.

  94. Kevin Johnson-Bade January 6, 2009 at 5:39 pm #

    Hi Sal, Coastal Agent and Sale Espro
    Interesting discussion that seems to have included YesBookit to an extent. I thought I would firstly take the time to clear up a couple of matters. It is true that we have developed interfaces with several other systems mostly in response to our clients needs. In general YesBookit can manage its own property listings and optionally feed them to other collaborative portals. Alternatively we can take a feed from other property listings management systems like RENet, PortPlus etc.
    All tariff and availability is managed by YesBookit internally, and this is fed to the agent

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