Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

The following guest post was written by Matthew Shadbolt, Director of Interactive Product & Marketing for The Corcoran Group, New York City

When we think about the Web, we have to think about mobile. In a climate where 1,000 iPhones are sold every 60 seconds, and over a million Android devices are activated daily, the way we work has already changed. Those in the real estate industry are in many ways best positioned to use mobile to take full advantage of how customers already interact with their services.

Simply put, if you’re in the location, location, location business, you have to be really, really, really serious about mobile.

The Web is now an experience determined by not only where you are, but also by what you and your friends are doing. How to remain visible in front of this potential audience of buyers, sellers and renters has become a very large challenge for digital marketers in recent years.

No longer can we race to the bottom of the display advertising market, simply purchasing bigger units in increased volumes.

No longer can we rely on interruption marketing to aggressively impede people’s experience of the Web in favor of communicating our message.

And most importantly, no longer can we think of our advertising in the context of how a traditional search works.

One of the first challenges we tackled at Corcoran was creating experiences centered on this seismic change in search behavior. If the bottom was beginning to fall out of the online display and advertising approach, we needed to develop solutions that allowed our users to experience Corcoran content on the go, at the right place, and at the right time.

We wanted to take everything we had learned over 10 years of building a robust desktop website experience, and physically put it into New Yorkers’ hands when they were away from their homes looking for properties near them. New York is a highly walkable city and one of the most mobile-enabled in the country.

As the first brokerage in our markets to launch a comprehensive suite of mobile services for our customers, (we have both iPhone and Android apps), we wanted our advertising to run in unique ways, too. We simultaneously launched mobile advertising programs with The New York Times, The New York Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Zillow and Google, to help us promote our properties and the downloading of our own app.

Our most comprehensive mobile advertising presence runs within what we call Ads In Apps. These are small, targeted banners, which run inside of other apps, and promote the downloading of the Corcoran app to your iPhone. They take the user out of their current app experience and into our page within the app store on their device.

For example, if you’re at the local coffee shop waiting for the barista to pour you that perfect latte, you could be reading a story inside of The New York Times app. If so, a small Corcoran banner will appear at the bottom of that article, promoting the download of our app. It’s the only banner on the screen and is targeted geographically and by type of content. Because it’s the only piece of advertising in the user’s hand, it significantly outperforms desktop display advertising (often six to seven times higher in terms of response), and even more in terms of actual conversion, which we measure later as downloads.

Also, we found that the more likely someone is to spend longer with a piece of content in an app, the more likely they are to engage with the ad itself. Inside The New York Times app for example, the longest used types of content (in terms of time spent per page), interestingly enough, ends up being places such as the crossword. Targeted Corcoran banners, displayed as someone does the crossword, have been enormously powerful for us in terms of not only app downloads, but also long-term brand recognition. Time spent with an interactive product at Corcoran, even if it’s just looking at advertising, is a powerful metric for us.

Since launch, we’ve grown our mobile advertising strategy to include many more types of units, some geared toward nearby property promotions, (for example nearby open houses happening later that day,) and some toward other brand initiatives we’re working on. With mobile advertising in its infancy, the ability to test and experiment has been invaluable for us in understanding how the user interaction differs between the phone and the desktop. Working with an ad partner such as Zillow has been enormously beneficial in transitioning what we do as a brokerage from the desktop to the smartphone.

For example, leveraging the results we see from Zillow in combination with what we see in our own apps, we see that Android users, while less engaged and smaller in number overall, tend to look more at Uptown Manhattan properties for sale, whereas iPhone users focus more on Brooklyn and Downtown Manhattan rentals.

These kinds of insights are absolutely invaluable to us as we grow our mobile marketing, and allow us to put the right message in the right person’s hands, at the right time.

Simply put, we’re learning how our future customers are going to behave.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

More on Mobile:

Jay Thompson from Zillow on — “A Tale of Two Listings. Mobile Matters”