I just searched for Real Estate on AOL, only to find that Realtor.com is no longer powering the section. I couldn't find any information on what happened to the deal and was wondering if any in the AR community knew? Did Realtor.com just not renew the partnership? If so, why not?
In November 2005 Realtor.com signed a 2 year deal with AOL to power the Real Estate section of the site. The deal expired on September 30, 2007 (last month). I do not know the exact amount Realtor.com paid for this distribution. I do know in 1998, Realtor.com paid $14 million to AOL for exculsive exposure in the section for 40 months.
In talking with Realtors across the county for the last 9 years, I never once heard anyone rave of leads or listings they had gotten because of exposure on AOL. So maybe it is good our dues are no longer being spent to fund such a deal. However, I find it strange that no news was made of the relationship no longer existing (or did I miss it?). If I were a practicing Real Estate agent, I would have had AOL's name in the list of sites that I give my client exposure on. And if I were a home seller, I would be double checking that I my house was on every site that my agent said it would be. So with no notification from Realtor.com about the ending relationship, I bet there are a lot of listing presentations being given with mis-information and a few home owners scratching their heads when they can't find their home on AOL.
With so many sites that allow Agents and Brokers to upload listings for free (Zillow, Homescape, Craigslist, and Trulia to name a few) I wonder how this change from the way listing content deals were brokered in 1998 changed the dynamics of trying to renew this deal today. In the heyday of the internet bubble in 1998, $14 Million sounded like a lot, but not totally insane. Compared to today's rates of FREE, $14 Million is inconceivable. Of course a premium is still expectable if there is some position of exclusively, such as what Realtor.com had.
AOL traditionally has been about the fourth or fifth most trafficked consumer real estate site. How this lack of content will affect their rankings? The obvious guess is that their numbers will suffer, depending on how quickly AOL can build this content back up from other sources. If I was a major Broker, I would be expecting a call any day now from AOL asking for my listings, which they used to charge millions of dollars to display.
This is obviously a big line item no longer on Realtor.com's balance sheet. Wonder where the money was re-allocated? Is what you were paying for on Realtor.com any less valuable today since a major distribution has been eliminated?
Would love to hear Agent's reaction to this. Will be interesting to see how it plays out and what happens to AOL Real Estate site. AOL's site now says it is in beta, insinuating that they are up to something....