Featured Agent – Equitability in marketing for an agent

The launch of Featured Agent in April was undertaken after valuable feedback from within the industry. We had been actively testing and discussing it since January.

However as is the case with any new feature you need to be ready to handle situations which may not have been readily visible at launch. It is clear given the take up of the service that there is a growing sense of competing interest vying for the 3 spots – this competition has exposed an issue which arose this week and has as such helped us to learn better how to adapt the principles of the service.

The current booking process is best presented as a “first in – first served” race. However we experienced a situation where a single office has “block booked” all 3 spots which has lead to feedback from other agents in the same suburb wishing to register a complaint that this is not fair, especially of an industry owned website. In their view we should be portraying to the public a balance of options when it comes to agents in an area.

When we set up this service these were the principles:

  1. Featured Agent was established at the request of salespeople who wished to have a means to promote themselves on the site to prospective vendors.
  2. The core principle of realestate.co.nz as an industry owned site is to act in a consistent and transparent manner to serve all professionals in this industry with a cost effective marketing tool
  3. A judgment was made to restrict the number of agents per suburb to just 3 – in that way allowing the public to see a representative selection of keen agents ready to promote themselves in that suburb.
  4. The buying criteria is first come, first serve with no ability to pre-book or blanket book for periods of more than 3 months

With these principles in mind we have made an amendment to the terms of business for booking of Featured Agent which will be implemented at the next release of Featured Agents which will be for the months of October onwards. This will be communicated on this website and through email prior to this date. This then is the situation and solution.

If a suburb is booked solely by one office within that suburb, and realestate.co.nz receives a challenge from other agents in that suburb. Such a challenge will be entertained by other offices who feel that in having an effective block booking attained by one office is not in the best interests of the website as judged by the consumer viewing that page and seeking to assess the capabilities of a range of agents for that suburb. Each case will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and the judgment will be made based on objective and transparent criteria for such an evaluation.

The recommended solution will be to allocate a single featured agent to each office in the suburb (only of those offices that raise an objection). If the number of challenging offices together with the original featured agent office exceeds 3 then the allocation will be based on a random drawing to see which offices will be featured.

In addition prior to the completion of each feature period (the current 3 months for example – Jul/Aug/Sep) an assessment will be made as to ascertain which suburbs were fully booked with featured agents. For all these “fully booked suburbs” with 3 agents a draw will be made from the existing customers of featured agents as well as the invitation of any offices and their salespeople who may wish to buy a feature agent profile in that suburb to participate in a random draw to allocate the 3 slots. These “fully booked suburbs” will be notified well in advance of the renewal date and a draw made prior to the start of the new period.

July 15 2009 07:40 am | New feature

6 Responses to “Featured Agent – Equitability in marketing for an agent”

  1. Tony White on 15 Jul 2009 at 3:29 pm #

    Why not auction the slots, for all suburbs. this is equitable, and lets the market determine the price.

  2. Alistair Helm on 15 Jul 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    Tony,

    Thanks for the feedback – this would be my chosen route and can be done.

    The reason why I have not proposed it is that I am not sure (but would love to be proved wrong!) that an individual agent will go online at a certain time to bid on an auction for a single month’s advertising.

    It would seem unfair to force people who for very legitimate reasons could not get online at a certain time to miss out. I appreciate that an auto bid could work.

    I would really like to hear form feedback as we want this service to be built to the needs of the agents and charged at what is a genuine market rate as clearly there is places where there is more demand than supply.

  3. Russell on 17 Jul 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    spell check required – last line paragraph 3

  4. Ross Brader on 17 Jul 2009 at 3:17 pm #

    I suspect that if a complaining office was offered the chance to replace one of the 3 previously block booked slots that when it came to the crunch they may not be prepared to pay!

  5. Alistair Helm on 17 Jul 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    Russell – many thanks, appreciate the second pair of eyes.

    Interesting observation Ross, so you believe that the people will be motivated to be belligerent!

  6. Alistair Helm on 18 Jul 2009 at 7:40 pm #

    An alternative option which has been put to me would be to open each suburb up to anyone with no restrictions. The only thing would be that if more than 3 agents per suburb decided to by a feature agent then the 3 “spots” would feature the agents who had booked in rotation.

    This proposal would achieve the following:

    1. No shortage of ad space

    2. Good representation for the public as it is likely that different agents would show up each time (if the suburb was popular enough).

    3. The fee per suburb would not change – it is just that as a function of demand the relative cost per impression (people seeing your advert) would rise – in proportion to the demand show by the number of agents buying a featured agent.

    Be keen for new feedback on this concept.

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