Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff

There’s been a lot of chatter about companies like Facebook and Zynga having challenges unlocking the mysteries of monetization on the mobile Web.

But that’s not the case at Zillow, with CEO Spencer Rascoff today appearing on Bloomberg TV and discussing the company’s success in driving advertising through its mobile platform. He said the biggest change in the company since it went public last summer is the dramatic shift towards mobile usage.

“Now, more homes are viewed on Zillow on a smartphone or tablet, than on a desktop. We’ve tipped towards mobile in terms of usage, and I think the bull case on Zillow and the reason why we’ve done well as a stock is we monetize on mobile,” said Rascoff. “So, a user of Zillow on a cell phone is three times more likely to contact one of our advertising agents than a user of Zillow on a desktop.”

That’s pretty amazing when you think about it, especially given that Zillow’s mobile presence was pretty much non-existent when founders Lloyd Frink and Rich Barton came up with concept of the online real estate company seven years ago. But times have changed, and people are now spending more time on their mobile devices, including looking for homes to buy, rent or sell.

Rascoff continued: “It is about trying to create an ad unit that is a service to the user, not a nuisance…. Advertising is usually about disruption, about trying to halt a user behavior and show you an ad to distract you. But the nice thing about Zillow, especially on mobile, is the ad unit actually helps you seve a purpose, it helps you see the house, it helps you contact someone who can help you with the house.”

The funny thing is that Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman appeared on the same Bloomberg show, and noted today that “monetization on mobile is certainly the talk of the town right now.” He added that the click-through rates are better on mobile than on the desktop, echoing comments made by Rascoff.

Zillow’s stock has been sinking recently, down 11 percent in the past five days. However, the company, which went public at $20 per share, is still up, now trading at $36.52.

We will get more details from Zillow on its mobile efforts next week as the company reports earnings on August 7th.

Previously on GeekWireDear Alley Insider: What’s Zillow, chopped liver?

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  • http://twitter.com/spencerrascoff Spencer Rascoff

    I chatted with Jeremy after I went off the air and right before he went on. For both Zillow and Yelp, it’s all about mobile mobile mobile.

    • johnhcook

      Thanks for the comment Spencer. I found it interesting that they had both of you on today, and both of you talked so much about monetizing on mobile. (BTW, I tried to embed the video clip from your appearance, but for some reason it didn’t work). Thanks for adding the links above.

  • http://twitter.com/spencerrascoff Spencer Rascoff
  • web3o

    Not sure it is a surprise that mobile is so big, considering the interface of choice, and the fact people actually do use these apps as they drive around and see for sale signs.
    The question is how much these companies truly “monetize” which I guess means make money.

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