Zillow kicked off its first-ever national conference in Las Vegas today, dubbed the Zillow Premier Agent Forum, bringing an enthusiastic nationwide audience of the company’s real estate agents together for a couple days of education and networking.
Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff called the event “the most important day in Zillow history,” signifying the first time in their history that they’ve been able to gather a national audience of their paying advertisers.
That’s a significant comment given every milestone Zillow has achieved in recent years — going public in July 2011 and announcing its intentions to buy rival Trulia for $3.5 billion earlier this year.
“We’ve got 1,000 of our 60,000 Premier Agents from 48 states in the room today,” said Rascoff.
For a company historically viewed with skepticism by the real estate industry, today’s conference shows how far they’ve come in gaining credibility and traction with real estate agents. It is also a clear indication of their efforts to try to make agents — those who advertise with them — more successful.
Zillow Chief Marketing Officer Amy Bohutinsky reiterated Zillow’s commitment to mass-market advertising, particularly TV advertising, stating that they’re on track to spend $75 million this year to build an “enduring brand that resonates with consumers, their children and their grandchildren for years to come.”
Before their TV campaign started 18 months ago, Bohutinsky said that one-third of visits to a real estate website started with Zillow. Today, that number is 50 percent, largely as a result of their TV exposure.
Zillow Chief Revenue Officer Greg Schwartz took the opportunity to introduce new mobile and marketing tools for agents, allowing agents to interact with their Zillow customers directly from the Zillow Mobile App.
Specifically, you can now manage your contact list, send off quick emails to new client inquiries, add your recent sales, request a review from your clients and edit your agent profile.
Schwartz also introduced a new form of paid advertising for real estate agents on Zillow called “Premier Agent Video Ads,” aiming to allow agents to better differentiate themselves on the portal. Agents who sign up for video advertising will get a professionally-produced 60-second video ad that gets featured on Zillow.
Having attended a number of industry events like this one, there is a clear split in agent opinion about portals like Zillow or Trulia.
Those who actively make money from these platforms view them as a positive advertising partner. Those who do not are often skeptical.
I would guess we are going to see even more industry events and outreach like this in the coming years as they try to translate their consumer success into an even larger community of agents and lenders advertising on their platform.
Here is a nice video overview of the event.