Zillow completes Trulia integration; begins universal ad sales to agents

Rascoff: Agents never before able to reach this many people

After more than a year after it was first announced and nearly seven months after the deal closed, the merger of Zillow and Trulia is now truly and fully complete.

Zillow Group (Z and ZG) announced Wednesday that the integration of Trulia into Zillow is now finished, bringing to close a process that began initially in July 2014 when Zillow announced its plans to acquire its largest competitor, Trulia.

The last hurdle in the integration process was the company’s advertising platform. That process is now complete, and now agents that advertise with the Zillow Group can reach a massive audience, all with one ad buy – a fact that Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff views as absolutely crucial for the future of Zillow and the real estate industry as a whole.

In a call with investors in August, Rascoff said that the integration of Zillow and Trulia’s advertising platforms presents real estate agents with an opportunity they’ve never been given before – to reach a significant majority of real estate buyers and sellers right in the palm of their hands.

During the call, Rascoff said that, according to comScore, the Zillow Group’s brands now account for 72% of all mobile-only real estate category visitors.

“This is extraordinary and represents a tremendous opportunity for our advertisers as well as validating our acquisition of Trulia,” Rascoff said in August.

“What I'm really excited about is being able to have our hundreds of sales people in Denver, Irvine and Seattle call real estate agents and say, ‘With one ad buy, you can appear in front of 72% of mobile-only visitors across mobile devices,’” Rascoff said on the call. “They've never been able to reach that type of audience scale before.”

And for Zillow Group, capturing more of the money that agents spend to advertise on is critical to the company’s success going forward. In fact, Rascoff said in May that Zillow “sells ads, not houses,” so gaining more market share of agent advertising is at the company’s foundation.

“Advertisers follow audience,” Rascoff said in April, and with the large audience that Zillow can boast across its various platforms, Zillow is well-positioned to capture more of agents’ advertising spend thanks to its audience.

According to Rascoff, the Zillow brand alone represents nearly half of the real estate category in market share of visitors. Rascoff also said in the August call that the Zillow Group now represents the 32nd largest web property in America.

And with that audience, Zillow expects to command more advertising dollars.

“The annualized run rate for our agent advertising business reached nearly $456 million at the end of the (second) quarter, compared to $349 million at this time last year, which is a 30% plus increase,” Rascoff said last month.

“This still represents a very small portion of the approximately $10 billion, spent by real estate advertisers per year,” Rascoff continued. “That says to me that, we are dramatically underpenetrated from our monetization standpoint relative to our potential.”

When discussing the Zillow-Trulia ad integration last month, Rascoff said that the completion of the integration would be “a glorious day.”

And it’s one that came much earlier than Zillow first thought it might.

According to Zillow, the integration was originally scheduled to be complete by the end of 2015, but according to a tweet from Rascoff, the integration is complete, four months early.

“As we near the end of this transitional year, I am incredibly proud of the speed at which we integrated the Zillow and Trulia advertising products,” Rascoff said in a statement announcing the completion of the Trulia integration.

“Every one of our ad products – mortgages, rentals, display media, and now real estate agent advertising – are seamlessly integrated so Zillow Group clients can buy advertising from one company, and the ads are shown across multiple consumer brands,” Rascoff continued. “We completed this complicated integration months ahead of schedule and are now well-positioned to benefit from our enormous audience scale as we move into 2016.”

For agents and brokers who use Zillow and Trulia to connect with buyers and sellers, the completion of the integration means they can manage their advertising efforts across both sites through one streamlined platform, Premier Agent, Zillow said in its announcement.

Through Premier Agent, agents can access and manage their combined Zillow and Trulia profile, which includes profile information, client reviews, and past sales, Zillow added.

According to Rascoff, the ad integration presents agents with a whole new world.

“(Real estate agents’) newspaper used to call them in the local market and say, if you advertise in the newspaper, you can reach a lot of people looking for real estate,” Rascoff said in August.

“But this is totally different from a scale, a measurement, a efficacy, an integration standpoint in terms of this ad product sending leads directly into an online CRM or they electronically follow-up on the leads,” he continued. “I mean they've never been able to buy audience at this scale, with this type of measurement and efficiency before.”

And that new world begins today.

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