A little over 10 years ago the real estate digital world was very different to what we see today. An excited young employee of Realestate.com.au Andrew Erwin once sat in a tin shed on Brisbane’s north side trying to upload images for a marketing campaign using the internet. It took him two hours to upload the new property listing over a dial-up line.
“It was frustrating, but in hindsight hilarious. I have a fond memory of that dial up sound. The line kept on dropping out and it was a hot Queensland Summer day in a tin shed with no air conditioning. But I knew we had the potential to be an emerging media giant, if we could just have property developers try it then the benefits of online would convince them to stay," said Mr Erwin.
The evolution of the internet continued to ramp up, coupled with a major national property boom.
“My early days at Realestate.com.au in 2003 were tremendous, new people were being employed every day, the place was a buzz. I was fortunate to be a part of what has to be one of the fastest growing companies in Australian history and was directly responsible for introducing media agencies and property developers to online property media.”
At that stage Internet marketing for property had less market share than Cinemas. Now if you’re not online you’re just not in the market. Realestate.com.au is now Australia’s No.1 property site, attracting an average of 18.6 million visitors each month, owned and operated by REA Group.
"When I joined REA, real estate professionals would often say, the day I list my property online will be the day I'm no longer in business and they were right."One challenging aspect that caught Andrew’s eye was the creative production side of the business.
“We had an internal resource at REA at that stage and it could take six weeks for turnaround on campaign creative. That just wasn’t working so we turned to an external service provider and that gained momentum.”
Net Direction Services was born and creative production became the catalyst for building better performance into media campaigns.
“In 2010 I was approached by a former REA colleague Dion George to join NDS as we combined to replace the founding director. A quick name change to NDS Creative and we were out the door consulting on how to design creative to get the best performance from REA Media campaigns."With the emergence of mobile and data analytics we able to begin to understand consumer behaviour by examining the landing pages and associated campaign results. We produced approximately 10,000 campaigns over 10 years and had up to 200 campaigns online at any given time representing expenditure of approximately $20 million in digital media spent annually.
"That experience and insight has been invaluable in gaining an understanding of performance, stock and location and forecasting accurately how a campaign will perform. We came to view media through a creative lens and have formed a unique understanding of property through digital.”
REA recently made a decision in March 2014 to acquire and integrate the NDS business back in house completing a full circle.
The timing was prudent, as Andrew had identified the need for visible independence and separation of publisher to empower data. We learned that through historical campaign data and pure experience that we now had the capacity to offer property marketers a tangible campaign result up front focusing on the number of enquiries expected at an agreed ROI coupled with a seamless end-to-end digital media and creative execution strategy.
Seeking to provide an even more integrated approach to the full suite of property services Andrew and his long term REA colleague and NDS business partner Dion George joined
Blirt! - a Creative Management Consultancy.
“Now we have the capability to deliver the whole suite, from DA to Property Sale in one conversation.”
This article has been prepared in partnership with Blirt and TheUrbanDeveloper.com team.