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CoStar changes two Homes.com ads after Move challenges traffic numbers

Move filed two Fast-Track SWIFT challenges asking the BBB’s NAD to examine Homes.com’s site traffic advertisements

CoStar Group is withdrawing two of its Homes.com advertising campaigns after two Fast-Track SWIFT rulings from the BBB’s National Programs National Advertising Division.

The two challenges were brought by Move, Inc., the parent company of rival Realtor.com. Fast-Track SWIFT is an expedited process for single-issue advertising cases brought to the National Advertising Division (NAD).

The two challenges called out CoStar for false advertising claims about its Homes.com traffic, finding that they are “unsupported,” and recommending that CoStar discontinue the use of these adds, which the Andy Florance-helmed firm said it would do, according to the release.

The challenges examined Homes.com’s claims that it has 156 million monthly unique visitors and that it has double Realtor.com’s traffic. In regard to the first claim, the NAD said that it felt that the advertisement “conveyed a message that Homes.com attracts 156 million monthly unique visitors when that figure was based on combined total traffic, calculated using Google Analytics, for 16 other CoStar websites.”

According to the release, Google Analytics data shows that Homes.com itself has 110 million monthly unique visitors.  

The second claim brought by Move asked the NAD to consider the accuracy of the claim that “Homes.com now has DOUBLE Realtor.com’s traffic.” In its judgement, the NAD reported that it found that the claim was not supported since Homes.com’s 110 million monthly unique visitors is not “double” the 66 million unique visitors claimed by Realtor.com.

Notably, the NAD said that it did not consider the question of whether Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics, “both site centric data gathering tools, could both be used together to make a single comparison of website visitors.” CoStar Group relies on Google Analytics data to monitor site traffic, while Realtor.com told HousingWire in May that it uses Adobe Analytics.

The NAD also noted that it did not evaluate the accuracy and validity of Homes.com’s 110 million monthly unique users claim, or CoStar’s Real Estate Network’s 156 million monthly unique users claim. In the past, Realtor.com has been a vocal critic of the validity of these numbers, but based on the NAD’s rulings, it remains to be seen who is correct about these numbers.

“We’re pleased the National Advertising Division saw through CoStar’s smoke and mirrors and put this issue to rest with the recommendation that CoStar withdraw their false advertising claims of 156 million monthly unique users for Homes.com and having double the traffic of Realtor.com,” Damian Eales, the CEO of Realtor.com, said in a statement. “The contrast with CoStar is becoming increasingly clear. CoStar has misled Homes.com customers while Realtor.com has remained focused on growing a quality audience and quality leads for both buying agents and listing agents.”

In a release, Realtor.com says that it “encourages customers who bought a Homes.com subscription based on an audience of 156 million to go to the following 16 URLs and try to find their brand and listings: Apartments.com, ApartmentFinder, FinderSites, ApartmentHomeLiving, WestSideRentals, ForRent, After55, CorporateHousing, ForRentUniversity, Cozy.com, Off Campus Partners, Homesnap, CitySnap, Land.com, Landandfarm.com, and LandWatch.com.”

Gene Boxer, CoStar Group General Counsel, provided this comment on the rulings: “Homes.com has far surpassed Realtor.com, which is now sliding into obscurity. CoStar is delighted that the NAD recognized that the Homes.com Network had 156 million unique monthly visitors in March 2024, and that Homes.com had 110 million (as calculated by Google Analytics).

“Realtor.com reported only 66 million unique monthly users in the same period, measured by Adobe Analytics. CoStar is pleased that NAD recognized that both metrics are derived from ‘site centric data gathering tools.’ As a result, Homes.com is the #2 most-visited residential real estate portal, far surpassing Realtor.com, and the Homes.com Network has double the traffic of Realtor.com. 

“Apples to apples, Realtor.com is losing the portal wars, and losing big,” Boxer said. “Consistent with NAD’s decision, CoStar will continue to advertise that fact and disclose the number of unique visitors to the Homes.com Network and Homes.com.  Realtor.com’s NAD gambit can’t change those numbers, or the reality: Realtor.com has fallen far behind.  Realtor.com keeps trying, and keeps failing, to hide the facts.  We couldn’t be happier to continue spreading the word about the success of Homes.com, and in compliance with the NAD’s recommendation, the success of the Homes.com Network.”   

Last week, Realtor.com’s parent company Move filed a suit against CoStar Group and former Realtor.com employee James Kaminsky, alleging that the current Homes.com employee stole Realtor.com trade secrets to help fuel the rapid growth of Homes.com.

In an interview with HousingWire, Florance called the suit a “PR stunt,” stating that there was zero validity in the claims Move brought specifically against CoStar Group.

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