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Are Newspapers Dead? Part 2 - Another data point

Chris Iverson, Realtor

May 30th, 2007 · 17 Comments

In an attempt to be provocative, on May 17th I recently did a post entitiled “Are Newspapers Dead?“, discussing that the vast majority of visitors to my recent listing in Mountain View found it from online sources, with only about 0.7% coming from the ads I ran in area newspapers. The home is in the downtown area, with a large amount of foot traffic, so I had 11 groups (8%) drop in from seeing the 14 Open House signs I had placed around the neighborhood.

The remaining 89% came from online MLS sites or by hearing about the home from their Realtor. I attributed this online bias to this house being in the heart of Silicon Valley and in the crosshairs of the digerati demographic.

I tried the same experiment with a new listing in Redwood City, which is a more traditional market. I lived there before moving to Mountain View, so I’m not stereotyping, just commenting on my former neighbors and their preference for traditional media sources (TV and newspapers) over online.

I ran ads in the Palo Alto Weekly and the Open Homes sections of the San Mateo County Times (local paper) and San Francisco Chronicle. And the results? Out of 52 groups over two weekends, a total of zero came because they saw an ad in a newspaper.

Menawhile, the listing for the house on my website has been visited 101 times, and the virtual tour on the MLS and other online outlets has received over 1600 hits from nearly 200 visitors.

So far, the data is backing up my original thesis that newspapers ads for homes for sale are about promoting the Realtor, not the house. Buyers find houses online, either via the MLS or online real estate tools like Oodle, Trulia, etc.

I welcome your questions, comments and the odd angry rant.

If you know of someone looking for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch with a full basement and a pool on the border of Atherton and Redwood City, please direct them to: http://www.247WOakwood.com.

Thanks for reading . . .

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Tags: Real estate

17 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sock Puppet // May 30, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Thats a great summary Chris and very convincing for your case that newspapers are dead.

    I’ve often amused watching the agents in my office trying to find their ads in the Sunday paper….

    I mean if YOU have to play hide and seek with YOUR ad that YOU put there… lotsa luck.


  • 2 Lenore Wilkas // May 30, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    I tend to agree with your thinking, Chris. I work the Burlingame area and most people come to open houses through signs and Craig’s List. Until a good web site that really covers Open Houses pops up and the agents holding said open houses uploads the data, signs will always win out. Too many agents have no idea that they can upload open house information and that it will disseminate to other sites.

  • 3 john harper // May 30, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    It’s sad to think that the second largest group of persons needing to read this won’t see it. Of the largest group - sellers - many will see it because savvy real estate agents like you, Kevin and other web 2.0 agents will show it to them.

    The second largest group - traditional real estate.

  • 4 - How to Waste YOUR Money Selling YOUR Home - Harper Team Blog // May 30, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    [...] We’ve all read similar stories over the years, but it’s become more of an issue in our high tech rapidly changing world. I read this great post over on 3Oceans Blog and just had to say a thing or two about it. [...]

  • 5 Teresa Boardman // May 31, 2007 at 6:56 am

    I would say that they are not dead but no longer the best source for advertising homes. I have been involved the our community newspaper for years and we are finding that more agents buy ads through us. The ads stand out and we keep it local. One of our major newspapers here in Minneapolis sells us online ads for 99 cents a day. They work well too.

  • 6 John Schneider // May 31, 2007 at 7:53 am

    It’s been at least 3 years since I’ve worked with a buyer
    who’s used anything but the internet to look for a home.
    Not even a ‘by the way, did you see the ad for the _ _ _ house in the paper, magazine’

  • 7 Erin Montgomery // May 31, 2007 at 9:36 am

    I actually disagree. When my husband and I bought our home two years ago, we looked at the listings in the Chronicle almost exclusively. In fact, we still peruse the Real Estate listings to see what’s happening in our neighborhood. I would argue that it’s actually the only useful classifieds sections remaining in the Chronicle.

  • 8 RE Agent in CT » The Feed Bag // May 31, 2007 at 11:33 am

    [...] Chris Iverson at Three Oceans makes a compelling case that Real Estate Newspaper Advertising is Dead. [...]

  • 9 RE Agent in CT » The Feed Bag // May 31, 2007 at 11:33 am

    [...] Chris Iverson at Three Oceans makes a compelling case that Real Estate Newspaper Advertising is Dead. [...]

  • 10 Jane // Jun 3, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Obviously, the time of the newspaper’s influence has passed in more ways than just real estate classifieds. I think that, like real estate agents, newspapers will have to rethink their classifieds & advertising strategies to keep themselves relevant in the online age.

  • 11 Roberta Murphy // Jun 9, 2007 at 6:09 am

    Chris: Newspaper print advertising is becoming less relevant in our San Diego real estate market. More interesting to us is the San Diego Union Tribune’s online publication, which shows more promise.

    A well-crafted article!

  • 12 LuxuryHomeDigest » Blog Archive » Newspaper Advertising: A Dead Horse? // Jun 9, 2007 at 8:00 am

    [...] This morning, I discovered Realtor John Iverson’s very interesting and compelling article, Are Newspapers Dead? over at 3 Oceans Real Estate blog. He took the time to track the results of newspaper advertising for open houses he conducted in the Palo Alto and Redwood City, CA markets and compared them to the results from online advertising and signs. [...]

  • 13 Newspapers remain (somewhat) dead : Real Central VA // Jun 9, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    [...] And, my favorite comment from the 3Oceans article she referenced: It’s sad to think that the second largest group of persons needing to read this won’t see it. Of the largest group - sellers - many will see it because savvy real estate agents like you, Kevin and other web 2.0 agents will show it to them. [...]

  • 14 Roberta Murphy // Jun 9, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    Chris: All apologies for mis-naming you. Corrections are made!

  • 15 Kris Berg // Jun 14, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Chris - Amen! Roberta is correct - Here in San Diego, when agents do advertise in the Union, it is for the online exposure. Personally, we have all but forsaken the in-line ads. I resisted for a long time, but they simply do not work. The open homes ads, however, are alive and well. The techiest of my clients still rely on the Sunday paper for their open house info. Absent a truly comprehensive online open house search portal, it will remain so for the foreseeable future.

  • 16 Chris Iverson, Realtor // Jun 15, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Hi all -

    Thanks for the comments. I was being provocative naming the entry “Are Newspapers Dead?”, and while overstating the case, has certainly accomplished my goal of opening a dialogue.
    As the saying goes: Times, they are a changing . . .
    I’m still receiving hits on the website for 206Palmita.com, even though it has been sold (for 14% over listing price thank you very much) for a month now. The “secret” of online advertising vs. newspapers is the “long-tail” of online marketing, meaning it stays out there for a long time. Newspaper ads and articles are snapshots in time and then recycled unless they are clipped to refrigerators, unearthed from drawers or researched in library files.
    For example, I still receive a steady stream of visitors to my webiste from the original Mortgage Mania posting from 4 months ago.
    Thanks for reading.

  • 17 Steve Kent // Oct 9, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    I have had similar experiences. In fact with the way newspapers bash our industry, run negative stories about market conditions, and generally hurt our profession and home owner equity, I have no idea why Realtor’s still spend money on ads. One telling thing though, in the San Jose Mercury News, home ads are down from 3 pages just a few years ago to barely a half a page today. They are not just ineffective, but they actually support and industry that doesn’t support the housing market or the real estate industry. There, my 2 cents.

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