Here, we chat with Andy Marshall, Zoopla’s Chief Commercial Officer, about how the vision is coming along, the enhancements that have been made to the My Home experience, and what the firm is doing to help agents generate more leads.
Zoopla’s vision sets out your ambition to drive commercial success for agent partners. You recently launched a new product, ‘In-Search Ads’, to give agents a new way to advertise on Zoopla. Can you tell us more about the launch?
Three years ago, we made the decision to pare back the adverts people see on our website in order to retain the ones that are most relevant to the home-buying journey.
This allowed us to rebuild our ad proposition so that it was easier to use for agents and worked alongside their brands. We want ads to complement listings, rather than being jarring and out of place and our focus is on helping agents and driving benefits for them.
We want to create a more modular, granular advertising approach. And we hope these innovations will help consumers move through the site in a much more logical journey that makes more sense to them. So rather than seeing an advert for unrelated consumer products, they’ll see an ad relevant to them, for example for a conveyancing or removal firm.
You have also recently launched some new enhancements to your ‘My Home’ experience. What value will these changes drive for agents?
My Home is central to the vision that we set out. The vision is made up of six different elements, but My Home is the centre of that universe. We want buyers and tenants, and sellers and landlords, to engage with My Home, and to do that we need to offer expert advice, unrivalled local knowledge and industry-leading data on property values, to draw people in.
42% of UK homeowners are considering putting their home on the market and we want to stir these passive browsers to actively make their next move. My Home is there to stimulate people, and persuade those who are on the fence about selling to take that step, ultimately driving more vendor leads for agents, and creating more effective lead nurturing. To do that, we need people to engage for much longer, and that is done by offering other services.
Our goal is to help agents have a better understanding of consumers and consumers have a better knowledge of the market, to ultimately drive more vendor and valuation leads for our agent partners.
It’s been a record first half of the year for the property market - what is Zoopla doing to help agents to capitalise on this momentum?
We know that the first half of the year has been great for the market but we know we can’t get complacent. We’re going to continue to drive vendor leads to keep stock levels high – that’s one of the biggest conversations we’ve been having with agents.
We’re helping with this with My Home and in various other ways to help move things along quicker, such as pre-populating forms, for example.
We want to be a progression portal, joining all the parts of the process together – from agreeing a sale right through to completion.
Our mission is to break down that journey and work out ways of speeding the process up, while keeping agents at the centre of everything.
What impact do you think the end of the SDLT holiday will have on the property market?
Some commentators believe that there will be a meaningful slowdown, others are more bullish and say the boom will continue. We think it’ll be somewhere in the middle – momentum will hold.
There’ll be regional biases, too. Last year, there was an incredibly buoyant market in rural and coastal areas as people moved out of the cities and sought lifestyle changes. However, the cities are now starting to come back. We’re seeing that in London and other major cities.
We don’t believe that there will be a long-term, wholesale and permanent shift out of cities. We are already seeing a bounce-back, and it was always a reaction to the situation at that time.
We don’t believe the stamp duty holiday is the main play in the market. It’s important, of course, but there are other factors. In six to 12 months, it won’t have the biggest impact.
How has Zoopla’s rebrand and vision launch resonated with the agent community?
We have taken the vision to 7-8,000 agents directly, it has landed well and we’ve been delighted with the almost unanimously positive feedback we’ve received. Many of the larger corporates are now with us for the long-term, with 80% of our partner agents on long-term contracts. That’s a sign of their confidence in Zoopla and that they believe we are the right partner to help them grow their businesses.
We now have 15,000 branch partners and over 19,000 total partners. We aren’t resting on our laurels however and will continue to work hard for our agents.
What’s next for Zoopla?
We have been working on our vision for two years, and now the plan is to make good on all the components included within it.
Most of the things talked about as future parts of the vision are happening now, happening already, in some shape or form. The groundwork is being put in for us to meet our goal of revolutionising the way people find, buy, sell or rent a home.
There is no change in direction, and we are clear that agents remain, as they always will be, at the centre of what we do.