An online question-and-answer article with OnTheMarket chief executive Ian Springett has suggested that its focus of criticism may be shifting from Zoopla to Rightmove.
The article, in the Directors’ Talk series on directorstalk.net, goes over familiar ground as to why OnTheMarket was set up in response to what Springett calls “a duopoly” of Rightmove and Zoopla.
But whereas previous criticism of any individual portal by OTM has typically been aimed almost solely at Zoopla, Springett uses the Q&A to particularly focus on Rightmove.
“...the imbalance of power between two big portals and thousands of small estate agent customers relying on their service, gave the portals strong pricing power. They were raising prices by double digit percentages each year with Rightmove in particular generating profit margins in excess of 75 per cent as a result” he says.
Springett then outlines OTM’s near-term strategy, and again singles out Rightmove rather than Zoopla.
“ ... we now need to build rapidly the number of agents and the property listings we carry to reach the same scale as Rightmove which has pretty much whole of market coverage. We’re doing this by offering introductory free trials of our service to agents but also by offering share incentives to those agents willing to enter into long-term paying contracts with us as the majority of our existing customer base have done.
“We’re also progressively increasing our marketing activity to ensure we build the property audience, the property seekers, who use OnTheMarket as part of their search activity. We’re scaling up the organisation to support the business growth, increasing the tech team to support new product development to create those added value services which will generate new revenues later on.”
OnTheMarket has previously reported that it has boosted its sales team from 15 at the time that it floated on the stock market in late January, to 32 now. But Springett says more growth is on the way:
“To support still faster growth and enable us to talk more regularly with all agents, we’re increasing the size of the field team and since IPO, it’s already reached 32 people and we plan to double it again by the summer and add to it further during the course of the remainder of the year. That team is centrally managed, all appointments are set for them by our telesales team, it allows us to monitor their performance, make sure their diaries are planned efficiently and that obviously has also increased in size as we address the quite substantial market that we still have to tap into.”
He also says traffic to the site, already known to have been 12m in March, rose to 13.7m in April.
Meanwhile ZPG has seen more than 100 branches per month on average return to its platform during the three months since OTM dropped its one other portal rule early this year.
It says the rate of branches returning to ZPG in the past three months is more than double the rate in the preceding three months, and is up almost fourfold over the same period last year.
Agents who have recently returned to ZPG over the past two weeks include Screetons in Doncaster, Perry Bishop & Chambers and Murrays in Gloucestershire, Matthews Benjamin in the Lake District, and Pacitti Jones in Glasgow.
“We’re delighted to welcome all of these agents back to our platform. We offer the best value digital marketing in the UK and agents clearly recognise the advantages we deliver to their business and their customers. We continue to provide our members with record levels of exposure via our portals along with the widest range of additional services to help agents gain exposure and generate additional revenues” says Charlie Bryant, ZPG Property Services managing director.