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Summary:

UK online property listings leader Rightmove saw profit improve by a quarter in 2011.

Now it forecasts a tipping point, saying newspapers a…

Sold/For Sale signs at houses
photo: AP Images

UK online property listings leader Rightmove saw profit improve by a quarter in 2011.

Now it forecasts a tipping point, saying newspapers are about to lose their traditional stranglehold on this, yet another, advertising market.

“With further strong growth in 2012, there is every prospect that this will be the year when the property industry’s spend on advertising on the internet will exceed that on local newspapers for the first time,” MD Ed Williams said, announcing the results.

Once upon a time, tiny ads in local newspapers were the main, laborious way people searched for homes. Rightmove and its digital peers have been taking that market from some publishers for some time, with better search, photo and information facilities.

Online, advertisers can find better deals and house-seekers can use better products. But some publishers have themselves been playing the online property game for years.

Northcliffe, whose owner DMGT operates Primelocation, Findaproperty and Globrix through its Digital Property Group, is finding property classifieds sales growing. Newsquest is seeing the opposite. Johnston last year said it found the segment “stable”.

The housing market itself is relatively depressed, with transactions little changed from 2008, 2009 and 2010 – half historic levels, Rightmove said, forecasting little change in 2012. Its client base of estate and lettings agents grew by only one percent.

But it managed to add 17 percent more to the average amount it charges advertisers, up to £443 million. So revenue grew 19 percent to £97 million.

DMGT last year agreed to merge its Digital Property Group sites with Zoopla to front up to Rightmove.

  1. Rightmove and other sites are all very well but they fulfil the same basic function as newspapers and effectively charge for eyeballs. This is likely to be doomed to failure once people realise they can list their houses for free online like any other content. Google is already moving in this area and it is only a matter of time before others follow suit on an advertising led model. It should cost no more to list a house than it costs to list a webpage, ie nothing. This will break the effective stranglehold that estate agents currently have on advertising where they charge 1-3% more or less for placing an advert and picking up the phone.
    Craig (owner, movehouses.com 

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