Content is king in the digital classifieds space
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
In Germany, IMMOBILIENSCOUT24 is the Kaiser but not in every segment
Everybody in the internet believes that content is king. In the digital classifieds space that is probably even more the case.
Contrary to my current opinion, in the last 10 years I have been working to prove that although true as an overall principle, property listings (content) over time become a commodity. As the industry consolidates, the top 2-3 portals end up having the same or very similar content.
Today, we start the Daybat blog series with the opposite statement. Content is king at the start of the competitive battle. But as the competition heats up and the race ends up becoming a two-horse race: Rightmove vs Zoopla, Zillow vs Move.com, Immobiliare vs Casa.it or Immoscout24 vs Immowelt-Immonet, the composition of the content and its granularity describes the competitive position of the portals.
With the goal of evaluating property portals content (and also revenue) competitive position, we set up Daybat.
We are starting, sharing our perspective in one of the most interesting markets globally, Germany. A market with three distinct and unique leading players: Immobilienscout24 (IS24), Immowelt (Iwelt), and eBay Kleinanzeigen (eBay). At Daybat we index their website content, analyze the listings they display, and in which circumstances they exhibit them.
This is what we found in our analysis during week 37, 2016, (September 12 to 19) for the sales and rentals categories.
To the readers familiar with Germany, many of the conclusions will not be striking. Nevertheless, we want to emphasize that our analysis is based on reliable metrics, We plan to share them relatively frequently. Spreading not only opinions but data-backed perspectives.
For a set of definitions look at the bottom of the post.
IS24, is a very strong leader, with 212.544 Sales Gross listings against 137.529 at Iwelt, 35.3% fewer. eBay is even weaker with 82,8% fewer, not surprising given that eBay is a horizontal player and therefore is not focused in sales.
Obviously this is just an average for the full country and the picture per lander, (region) could be and (we have seen) it is very diverse (we do not have space to go into much detail).
We also provide data on Total Area and Total Value of portfolio for both Gross listings and Qualified listings. See footnote.
We prefer to discuss the Qualified listings metrics as they are clean. Based on our tracking history Qualified listings metrics behave more homogeneously.
The key conclusion is that the three portals present consistent data. Iwelt has smaller properties at a slightly higher price per sq-meter. eBay as expected covers the lower end of the market.
We collect and process many listings attributes and we include here four of the most relevant ones.
Private vs professional listings.
eBay is the strongest in % (32,27%) but also in absolute terms, with 11.779 listings.
Iwelt almost non-existent beyond professional agents.
Featured vs default listings.
IS24 the strongest with 26,75% of its listings featured.
Iwelt and eBay with very few featured.
And then two listing quality attributes.
All three players with above 86% of listings with the first three attributes, Q1,
eBay geolocates the listings with tremendous precision. 83% of them with 7 decimals
IS24 has only 16.9% of theirs with at least 5 decimals
Iwelt has good average quality with more than 55% of their listings with 7 decimals
In summary, IS24 very solidly established in sales from content and featuring perspective.
Iwelt and IS24 average pricing are very similar even though IS24 has many more listings. In our view, this reflects the strength of IS24 commercial position and probably the diverse geographical position of Iwelt.
Contrary to popular perception, eBay’s listings do have high quality in spite of being a horizontal player.
Overall in rentals, the perspective is similar to sales but more intense.
IS24, is a very strong leader, with 107.185 Rentals Gross listings against 56.866 at Iwelt, 47% fewer. But eBay is relatively stronger with only 53% fewer than IS24, (this is again consistent as horizontals have a stronger position in rentals than in sales).
Surprising, how far off appear IS24 Gross Rental Monthly Revenue and Gross AVG Price/m2 (clear need to review some wrong published prices). This is why Qualified listings are of significantly higher relevancy and precision.
Similar conclusions to sales, the three portals present consistent value data with an average monthly rent price/m2 between €7,09 and €8,73. Again Iwelt has smaller area properties at a slightly higher price per m2. eBay as expected covers the lower end of the market with the lowest price/m2. Worth mentioning that we are witnessing consistent behavior in these value metrics in other analyses, increasing our degree of confidence in how relevant Qualified listings Value data points are, i.e.: AVG price per listing, AVG Price/m2.
Private vs professional listings.
When we split rentals listings in private and agent listings. eBay (38.181 listings) stand out as significantly stronger than IS24, (18.556). More than two times its listing.
This is of particular importance for two main reasons:
Rentals and especially private listings are the beach-heads for horizontals in their attack in real estate against the verticals.
In 2015, German legislators regulated that agent commission in rental property services will be paid by the landlord. Therefore pushing landlords to avoid agents and seek cheaper free advertising channels (like eBay). Therefore this segment is prone to strong growth.
eBay is reacting to this opportunity already and we expect to see a growing focus in this sub-segment from both, IS24 and eBay
Featured vs default listings.
IS24 the strongest with 17,21% of their listings featured, although weaker than in sales, (26,7%). Something not surprising as profitability per listing is much higher in sales than in rentals.
Again Iwelt and eBay with very few featured.
All three players with above 87% of listings with the first three attributes, Q1,
Again eBay geolocates the listings with precision. 74% of them with 7 decimals
IS24 significantly improving its quality with 59% of theirs with at least 5 decimals
Iwelt displays lower precision listings. with only 31,52% above 5 decimals
In summary, IS24 very solidly established on average for the whole of Germany.
Iwelt probably is not evaluated fairly at the national average level as they will have much stronger positions in some areas, (South for Immowelt, North for Immonet).
eBay significantly stronger in rentals with a focus to start slowly challenging IS24 in the category.
Vertical vs Horizontals.
eBay having good quality content and relevant offering for the low end of the market is probably starting to focus in Real Estate. They have been hiring a Business Development Head for the Real Estate category. Given the overall evolution globally in the battle between horizontal and verticals. Leboncoin owning the category vs Seloger in France, Avito in Russia…, we expect Germany to be one of the major battle-fields in this regard. On top, we think that other players especially in the mobile app space: Letgo, Wallapop, might be eyeing Germany as an interesting vertical opportunity.
We are ready to stand behind our numbers. Our goal is to provide precise, reliable, accurate numbers. That does not mean that there are no mistakes, there are. But we fundamentally believe our data is correct and that differences might arise more in the definitions that in the actual numbers. For instance, in Germany, the sales and rentals categories are not properly single categories as they are made up of aggregating different subcategories. Some portal might include the same listing in more than one category. What we include here are all unique properties that are not double-counted. If you are a property portal and want to contrast our data please do contact us.
We also have many more metrics. What we show here are our global metrics. metrics that are universally accepted. But we have many that are only applicable to a country, i.e. Germany or to a given player.
This article was originally published in Linkedin