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REA Group's Arthur Charlaftis talks subscriptions

14 May 2013 Stacey Moseley

This is the full response by REA Group's general manager of sales and operations, Arthur Charlaftis, in regards to subscription costs.

QUESTIONS

1. What is the “flexi subscription”?
“The Flexi Subscriptions is a new choice we’re introducing for Principals and is significantly cheaper than the existing Diamond and Platinum subscriptions, lowering agents’ overhead costs. A Flexi subscription offers agencies the ability to advertise all of their property listings on realestate.com.au within the one subscription cost. They will also receive our online advertising tools, which were previously only available to our Diamond subscription customers. This includes advanced market reports to help Principals understand their competitive position within the local market as well as social media integration tools.”

2. What has motivated this fee change?
“We’re reducing fixed costs to make it easier for agents to communicate advertising costs to vendors and what they can expect to pay for effective advertising. Our subscription rates are tiered to value and the results that we deliver. Our customers also have the option to choose from a range of subscriptions and property listing contracts to select the one which most closely aligns to their market conditions. Our subscription pricing is determined per suburb, based on the number of visitors, searches and leads. We focus on what’s important to the market – great experiences and solutions for consumers, our customers and property owners – and we invest in our technology and product innovation. We work with our customers to develop advertising solutions that help them achieve their business goals and we create products to match their needs. In recent years, this has meant investing more than $80 million in our technology platform and advertising products, which has enabled us to develop new products to benefit our customers and their vendors.”

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3. What are the value adders? Can you show a direct benefit to the agents and landlords?
“Our customers told us they wanted to reduce fixed costs and to have more flexibility with their subscriptions. As a result, we’ve introduced the cheaper and more flexible subscription and now we’ve started educating vendors and landlords about the value of digital to assist our customers in obtaining advertising costs at the beginning of their property marketing campaigns. We do this through visibility of listing upgrade benefits and maximising enquiries from buyers, as well as information on sellingguide.realestate.com.au, and we’ll be introducing more tailored tools and collateral for agents.  

Some recent examples of new tools we’ve introduced for our customers to help them demonstrate ROI and win new listings include:
•    new campaign reports emailed directly to agents each week to assist them in updating their vendor on the progress of a selling campaign (NB. Currently available for the ‘buy’ channel)
•    fact sheets which include information specific to the local area
•    a Brochure Mock-up tool, which came about after customer research found that vendors are more likely to transact when they can clearly visualise what they are purchasing, which the mock-up tool allows (NB. Relevant for the ‘buy’ channel)
•    enhanced agent branding across desktop, mobile and tablet

We will continue to innovate to ensure the best consumer and customer experience.”

4. One principal has claimed he was told to pass-on any increase in fees to his landlords? Is this the belief of REA?
“We are assisting agents to provide vendors and landlords with a choice to increase their listing (and sale or rental potential for the property) by paying for advertising up front. The way we are doing that is through education about the value of digital advertising and the benefit of listing upgrades in driving more enquiries. The more vendors and landlords understand about the value and cost of the digital marketing opportunities available to them when it comes to selling or leasing their property, the more informed they are about where their advertising dollars are spent. For instance, on the ‘Buy’ section of realestate.com.au, a Premiere Ad will showcase a property more prominently than any other listing and take it to the top of the search results. It can also generate up to 15 times more views and eight times more enquiries than a Standard Ad. When a vendor or landlord understands the difference between a Premiere, Highlight, Feature and Standard Ad – it will have the combined benefit of making the conversation agents have with vendors or landlords about marketing their property, as more vendors and landlords will be informed about the choices they have and ready to pay for their advertising and reducing overhead costs for agents.”

5. There has been an expression of interest from some agents to “boycott” these fees, what would you say to agents who are considering this?
“Our customers choose to advertise vendors’ property listings with us because we are Australia’s number one property site and deliver exceptional return on their advertising investment. We are constantly innovating and working with our real estate agent customers to deliver new advertising solutions and services to help improve their profitability. Many real estate agents have welcomed the new range of choices and we will continue to work with our customers to provide them with options and choices to best meet their needs. Our goal remains focused on assisting agents to win new listings, grow their rent role and sell or lease properties, which our customers have told us aligns with their key priorities as well.”

REA Group's Arthur Charlaftis talks subscriptions
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Are you considering offering a flat fee model in 2019?

No
Yes
Perhaps, but it would include a performance bonus on making the sale.
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