Is Old School Print Set to Rebound?

by Victor Lund on February 4, 2016

Print advertising and marketing has seen a striking decline. I love using the phrase that newspapers are like nursing homes. But that might be changing. Here are some thoughts.

Years ago, I spent a few yeaHomes magaziners working with a real estate magazine. We helped them expand into digital marketing – online portal, online advertising, agent and broker websites, etc. It was a good thing. We married their loyal customers to new services that escalated in revenue as print dropped off. The relationship remained the same, the revenue by product choice changed.

One of the great boosts to the online marketing business was the comparative calculus of print vs. web pricing. Buying a page of advertising in a monthly real estate magazine with 25,000 to 50,000 magazines in circulation is about $500. More expensive in some areas where distribution outlets are paid. Less in rural areas where you can put a box on any corner you like for free.

Heck, if agents spent $500 in online advertising today, they would be likely to reach 10x to 20x the number of people. That is why companies like Realtor.com, Homes.com, or Adwerx are so popular with REALTORS®.

Online Losing Value

A decade ago, the price per click for Google Adwords in real estate was between $1 and $5 for competitive keywords. Interestingly enough, the price per click has been steadily declining. Online advertising is losing value because the conversion rates are so bad. The leading reason why brokers and agents are vacating their adverting with the Zillow Group is not what you think. They are not abandoning them because they don’t like them. They are abandoning online advertising because the likelihood of converting one of those leads is remote. If you do convert a Zillow Group lead – its likely a year down the road.

I remember doing research on a series of brand new real estate domain names around 2002. The new URL was in the Google sandbox and you could not find it on search. We also asked the agent not to advertise it anywhere. The only place we put the URL was in the Homes Magazine. The same day the magazine hit the stands, the agent website went from 0 visitors to 150 unique visitors a day. These were local people, picking up a real estate magazine, and going to the URL of the listing agent to see more information about the property. I have not done the research in awhile, but I expect that the results are pretty similar. No offense to The Real Estate Book, but it does not have the same impact as a full size magazine like Homes and Land.

Good Things Aren’t Cheap

Undoubtedly you have hear the wisdom of quality “good things aren’t cheap, cheap things aren’t good.” In this rush to find effectiveness in business, I think that there is a distinct possibility that print may reemerge as a significant investment by real estate in 2016 and beyond. Print advertising is beautiful, tangible, hard to execute, and expensive. Print still has very little going for it competitively. But online is not really working as well as it once did.

By the way, the #1 rated advertising vehicle in Beverly Hills is print, or more specifically the magazine published by TheMLS.

Moving your marketing into print in 2016 would certainly be asymmetrical – zigging when others Zag. What do you think? Is it worth a try?

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