The Empire Strikes Back: The Print vs Internet Battle Heats Up!

Just as RealEstate.com.au complete the launch of a new web design News Limited are putting the final strokes on a strategy to strike back and one of the weapons of choice in the fight will be a video and website called “For What It’s Worth”. This tussle between the two giants for the real estate advertising revenue has all the drama of a soap opera and our current story is reminiscent of the Empire Strikes Back, the second movie released in the Star Wars franchise.

The Star Wars movie saga  featured the Jedi, who use the Force for good, and the Sith, who use the dark side for evil in an attempt to take over the galaxy.  In the original Star Wars movie the Sith had control of the Galactic Empire. Believing themselves invincible they built the Deathstar to literally crush any opposition still remaining to their absolute domination of the Galaxy. The upstart Rebel Alliance did not have the firepower of the almighty Empire but what they lacked in firepower they made up for with cunning and skill to win the first round in the saga.

The real estate advertising market plays the part of the Galaxy that everyone is fighting for in this story and who can better fill the shoes of the Galactic Empire than Newspaper Advertising.  Up to 10 years ago there was only print as an option for agents to use and the Newspapers ruled the Galaxy with no fear at all. Then along came the internet and from that sprang the Real Estate Portals who are playing the part of the Rebel Alliance. In comparison to the traditional media organisations the portals were comparatively light and nimble and who took the fight to their lumbering foe in guerrilla fashion.

It did not take too long before the Rebel Alliance started making inroads against the Galactic Empire and the war was on.  The battle raged and in the process the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Deathstar and in the process showed the Galaxy that the Empire was able to be defeated.

In the past few years we have Newspapers losing their aura of invincibility for the Real Estate advertising dollars to the new boys on the block  the Real Estate Portals who are fighting way above their weight class.  However just when the portals were getting comfortable with their gains the Empire Strikes Back!

The movie second Star Wars movie,  The Empire Strikes Back starts with Galactic Empire recovering from recent defeats in the original installment and attempting to drive the Rebel Alliance forces back out of the Galaxy and recover what they consider is rightfully theirs.

News Limited are about to launch a fight back against the real estate portals claim on their galaxy, the real estate advertising dollars. Apparently one of the first strikes might be News Limited to stop the realestate.com.au branding on their property pages unless they start coughing up some serious dollars which REA are not prepared to do.

Another strike which is due for release very soon is the “For What It’s Worth” campaign which focuses on promoting print advertising to property sellers. The centre of the campaign is an 18 minute video that attempts to pass itself off as an independent advice to sellers on using print advertising when selling their house.  At a recent launch we were only allowed to preview just a short clip from the video which should be out very soon.

The premise of the video is that 5 or 6 experts discuss the advantages of using print from their perspective through an evidence based presentation.

The four key points the video highlights will be :

  1. Choose a good marketing agent (in contrast to a transactional agent)
  2. Combine Print and Online marketing
  3. Invest 1% of the value of your property in marketing
  4. Improve your styling and presentation for best results

There is an analyst from RPData who I presume will come up with statistics to show that houses will sell for more if they are advertised in print.  There is also a property stylist and Tom Panos from News Limited fills one of these expert slots himself.  Another one or two of the slots are to include real life vendors who provides a testimonial on how print worked for him when selling.  There is not a real estate agent in sight apparently and overall the production values on the video appears very high from what we were allowed to see.

News Limited will be providing all of their clients with the dvd’s to provide seller clients as part of a physical pre-listing kit. Of course many agents are skipping the traditional printed pre listing kit and are choosing to deliver digital versions and News Limited is finalising a website now that will feature the video that agents can provide vendors as part of a digital pre listing kit. There will probably be the typical brochures and like to hand out at listing presentations and open houses.

The message that was sold as part of the “show” and I assume will feature heavily on the video itself when we get to see it is:  that of course an agent has to advertise your property on the internet, that’s only natural and to be expected but only the very best agents use print advertising as an additional option and  they are able to leverage the print ads to achieve a premium price by as much as 10% because of the increased competition that a print campaign will create.  With print advertising you get to sell your house For What It’s Worth!

Given the short video that I have seen I actually think the concept works and has a great potential and it seemed to be well received by most agents. The fact that it uses video and the internet to push a print message is of course slightly hypocritical but I think overall it will be a positive move.

It might win them a few battles and keep them in the war a little longer but can the “For What It’s Worth” campaign kick the pesky rebels out of the Galaxy….. not by a long shot.

Any Star Wars fans out there know that by the end of the Empire Strikes Back movie the Rebel Alliance have kicked the Galactic Empires butt once again. In fact once the Empire recovers from that shellacking there is still a third movie in the original Star Wars trilogy called Return of the Jedi to be played out yet where the Rebel Alliance turns up the pressure, the Galactic Empire falls and the Emperor is killed.

These tactics might extend the life of print as an option for property advertising but I fear nothing can save it from the inevitable.

If print is still successful for you and is a valid option that you offer owners then you are probably going to love the For What It’s Worth campaign especially if you are an auction orientated agent. It has the potential to be a great tool to get VPA for print advertising. It wont be the saviour of the Newspaper Advertising for real estate agents that News Limited would like to hope for but it will make a difference and give you a great tool to add to your kit.

Of course to all the Star Wars fans out there I have to ask you to ignore any other Star Wars facts that do quite not fit this story however if you can come up with any other connections between the two sagas then share away!

For instance.. who plays the part of the Emperor… Rupert?

What about this… Darth Vader fathered Luke Skywalker who went on to destroy the empire which is just like News Limited and Fairfax spawning Realestate.com.au and Domain.com.au who then go on to threaten (and ultimately destroy) their cash cow.

Originally posted at the : Business2 Blog

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