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Housing.com bets on advertising dollars from the real estate industry

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MUMBAI: Earlier in May, real estate portal Housing.com had stirred up the market after announcing a 200 percent revenue growth month-on-month with a target to hit USD 10 million by the end of this financial year. For those who have been following the company’s progress since its inception in 2012, the figures show a great improvement since the start-up’s nationwide launch in 2015.

After co-founder Rahul Yadav’s exit from the company made several headlines last year, a cloud of uncertainty was hanging over the real estate tech giant. Acting quickly to counter this and wave away any doubts from investors, the company made a slew of upper management changes – right from the CEO to the CMO of the company.

Along with this came a sharp shift in the company’s business strategy. Housing.com users could no longer look apartments for rent on the site; it was solely dedicated to buying and selling of properties.

"We never thought of ourselves as a classifieds company or a mere listings aggregator. We are much more than just a search and discovery platform. We are a true product and tech company which is using technology to solve the real estate buying and selling problem in India," clarified its chief marketing officer Nikhil Rungta, who joined Housing.com in November last year.

This new focus on buying and selling strengthened the portal’s opportunity to monetize itself through advertising. With close to 4 million visits per month, Housing.com is now one of the largest online platforms in India. If the figures shared by the company are to be believed, Housing.com has a larger reach than many English dailies in the country. So naturally there is an opportunity for the real estate companies to use this platform to promote their brand and their projects amongst a target audience, which has a very high intent towards buying property.

The company launched a series of digital advertising products for developers and brokers to provide maximum customer exposure and return on investment for their home sales efforts.

The new strategy seemed to have clicked for the company, to churn out 200 per cent growth in revenues each month. "We are delighted with the response we are seeing in the market and are confident about the company’s revenue position in the future. To achieve such a strong performance when the real estate sector is going through tough times is a testament to the value that Housing.com as a company and platform is delivering to stakeholders," said Housing.com CEO Jason Kothari.

Divulging on the types of different products Housing.com has to offer to its client, Rungta shared, "From products which help in brand building to performance products which drive leads and sales. For example, we recently launched India’s first ‘Privilege Price Card’ (PPC) for the real estate sector. It is a unique product that helps buyers get access to some of the best deals and special prices on properties across India enabling them to buy their dream home. We believe that the PPC has the potential to transform the way homes will be bought and sold in India, both, for homebuyers and developers."

In addition, the company offered customized digital marketing services to large developers to more effectively and efficiently drive home sales and build developer brand equity. There are also new innovative products being piloted that are slated to launch next quarter.

"Our builder and broker partners get access to high intent homebuyer audience on Housing.com. This makes their marketing very targeted and helps build the brand consideration amongst people who are relevant and are looking to buy or sell a home," Rungta added.

The CMO also pointed that a shift in the mind set the otherwise traditional real estate industry has also helped Housing.com to penetrate further into the market.

"While the industry is traditional but the mind-sets are becoming very modern. Builders and brokers have realized the importance and role of digital in the homebuyer’s journey and they do not want to miss out on this key touch point. Even Google pointed out recently that over 50 percent of the prospective buyers start their search online," he shared.

While Housing.com is busy finding advertising solutions for its clients, it hasn’t been farsighted about its own marketing strategy. Earlier heavily visible through OOH medium, the portal launched its first TVC, which was later continued on the digital platforms as well.

"We recently launched a set of video stories called 'Yeh ghar meri jaan' stories. 70 percent of our budget is directed towards Digital, 20 percent towards traditional media and 10 percent is for experimentation on new / emerging media," explained Rungta on the breakup of its advertising budget.

With the ambitious target of USD 10 million, Rungta assured that Housing.com will continue to pay keen attention to three core areas while marketing, namely: attracting the right and high intent audience, Engaging them with relevant products and listings, and retaining them by becoming their trusted partner in their journey of buying a home.

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