OnTheMarket has changed the claims it makes to prospective clients about its stock levels and market share compared to Zoopla, following the intervention of the Advertising Standard Authority.
The ASA has this morning released details of a complaint it received from Zoopla Property Group about an email sent to a prospective client in September last year.
The ASA says the text in the main body of the OTM email stated:
“Dear […] As you have registered interest in Agents’ Mutual and OnTheMarket, I am writing with an update on our progress […]
“The great majority of our firms switched from the No. 2 portal, reducing the number of its agents by over 23% between 30 September 2014 and 31 March 2015 (source: Zoopla Property Group PLC Results Presentations 2014 and 2015) […] OnTheMarket is rapidly closing the gap with Zoopla in terms of available property stock. Zoopla is losing traffic market share and it is clear that agents leaving it are seeing no adverse effects on their business […]”.
The ASA says ZPG challenged the text on three points:
- Whether the claim “OnTheMarket is rapidly closing the gap with Zoopla in terms of available property stock” was misleading and could be substantiated;
- Whether the ad breached the ASA code because the email did not contain a mechanism whereby recipients could verify the comparison between OnTheMarket and Zoopla’s property stock; and
- Whether the claim “Zoopla is losing traffic market share and it is clear that agents leaving it are seeing no adverse effects on their business” was misleading and denigrated their service, because it portrayed them in a negative light.
The ASA says the dispute has now been resolved: “OnTheMarket provided their written assurance that they would not make similar claims without substantiating them with adequate and up to date evidence and in the case of comparative claims, they would ensure that they included means by which consumers could verify those comparisons. Furthermore, they informed us that they were no longer making such claims in their advertising.”
Zoopla is not commenting on the issue while a spokesperson for OTM says: "We were informed by the ASA in November last year that they had received a complaint from a competitor about an email sent in September 2015. The challenge was not upheld by the ASA and it has now been informally resolved following our full co-operation."