Posted by: housingdabble | June 11, 2010

Portal Activity from the ‘BIG THREE’

Over the last few weeks there have been some really exciting developments in the property portal world in terms of the leading pack and any efforts to break into this group.

Recently at the Property Professional Show we queued up to hear Google in anticipation of their UK property search launch. If you’ve not already heard, Google royally cocked up the event and were not helped by the ash cloud, but then went on to deny any plans to provide this service in the UK. A room of frustrated property people (including myself) threw questions at James Bacon who either didn’t know about their plans or was under instructions not to discuss. So we are still in the dark at when they will launch, but the work they have already done suggests it will only be a matter of time.

Back in the real world, the three big boys (TDPG, Rightmove and Zoopla) are clearly emerging from the following pack, largely because they have between them bought any competition that looked like making even a slight dent on their progress, but also because they are the ones with deep enough pockets to play the long term game.

We’ve heard the usual noise from a couple of smaller competitors and new entrants and was one that caught my eye, not because it will succeed but because it is different. Robby Mitra, the sites creator, describes his new property portal as “YouTube meets”.  The problem is that it is a poorly executed idea and if it were to end up catching on the ‘BIG THREE’ would simply add any new functionality to their sites with larger audiences.

Back to the ‘big three’ and one addition to their arsenals this month is the launch of iPad apps from Rightmove and Primelocation (TDPG) to coincide with the UK launch of this device. We are yet to see if this device will go mainstream although experts are predicting this won’t be the case for a few years yet, but the initial sales figures are impressive as sales hit 1 million twice as fast as the iPhone did and sales are now over 2 million.

I’m not going to review the iPad apps here, because I probably wouldn’t add a great deal to a blog by Graham Charlton of Econsultancy who offers a very good view from outside the property world. In short, Rightmove have ticked all the right boxes as you would expect and Primelocation have seemingly created their app backwards. Rather than consider what people want from an app to search for property have focused on the functionality of an iPad and tried to work that into a property search app. It doesn’t work…

Interestingly, Zoopla have so far stayed out of the iPad/iPhone app arena but tell me that their new iPhone app is ready for launch in the coming weeks and from what they’ve told me it will take the functionality to the next level (Think UK version of Zillow) – watch this space.

Zoopla have also been busy announcing their partnerships with ebay and Gumtree which might not seem like a wow moment just yet, but it increases their reach meaning that “agents listing on now have the opportunity of being seen by over 73% of all UK website users monthly” and also establishes a strong platform for both ebay and Gumtree to develop their home buyer offering, with Zoopla being in on the ground floor. It’s worth noting that the Gumtree link-up is unlikely to appeal to a large number of agents outside of London where it is most actively used.

As for Righmove’s clear dominance, there was a report in EAT this week about “Rightmove” being a more popular search term than “property” – however looking back, this isn’t ‘news’ as according to a Hitwise report from 2006 “Rightmove” was a more popular search term than “property” even back then. (Martin Smith wrote an recent blog on similar lines that is well worth reading)

Zoopla have also announced the appointment of two leading agencies (Vizeum and VCCP) to develop its multi-million pound above the line advertising campaign, scheduled for launch later this year. This follows campaigns by Findaproperty and Rightmove which are designed to increase the number of leads to their agents.

The press comment from Alex Chesterman, founder and CEO of Zoopla, ended by saying “we are looking forward to building an exciting campaign to complement our unique proposition”. I’m excited to see what they come up and the words “unique proposition” are a good reminder that Zoopla have a clear differentiation from their two main competitors in terms of attracting visitors to their site (more on that here). I believe differentiation will be key moving forward if either TDPG or Zoopla are going to make a significant advance on Rightmove’s domination.


  1. Good summary Ben. Appreciate the link too thanks 🙂


  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ben Harris, Martin Smith. Martin Smith said: @housingdabble Thanks for the kind link on Google Trends is a very insightful tool at times. […]

  3. I am assuming you quote Graham from econsultancy because you haven’t got an iPad and therefore haven’t tried either the Rightmove or Primelocation apps. I have and the Rightmove one is really an iPad version of their recently-launched desktop search application whereas the Primelocation one is, although very basic, designed for the device. Isn’t that the point, though – it’s an app not a property search engine. If an app isn’t designed backwards to chime in with the iPad’s abilities, what’s the point it?

    • Hi James,

      You assume wrongly. I have an iPad and have tried both applications, but I saw no point in replicating a perfectly good post.

      I agree that you would seek to use the functionality and abilities of a device when creating an application, but priority should be given to the customer experience. The point of an having app is cater for that iPad owner audience and to increase the number of people using your portal to search for property which as a result delivers more value to your estate agency clients.

      If Rightmove have replicated their desktop app, and yes I agree it looks very similar, then maybe they were clever in beta launching that a couple of months before to get some good feedback for their iPad app.

  4. A great sum up of the latest UK property portal news.

  5. Interesting to see Zoopla engaging VCCP as their agency – these are the people who created Alexandr Orlov aka which has to be one of the best campaigns ever, in particular the integration of most media/mediums – I’m really looking forward to seeing their work in the property area, after all they have changed the face of car insurance for ever.

  6. […] the playing field will become more level. Whereas Private Sellers cannot currently list on the ‘BIG THREE’ portals, Google has no such restrictions. Providing a user has a site to link to they can list […]

  7. Interesting read. We at think property hold a range of lettings and sames properties in the Leigh-on-sea area. Please visit our website for more info


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