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The Marketer's Dilemma: Online vs Offline advertising,
which one is effective for real estate?
The Marketer's Dilemma: Online vs Offline advertising, which one is effective for real estate?

   February 18th, 2016               Vinayak Katkar               Digital Marketing

The Marketer's Dilemma:  Online vs Offline advertising, which one is effective for real estate?

I recently got a call from one of my acquaintances, working as an analyst in a reputed investment banking firm. He was researching revenue implications and the effects of online advertising on the revenues of newspapers that his clients have invested in. He was interested in knowing how online advertising has impacted the revenues of print/offline media and what the right marketing mix would be for a real estate company, which I discussed with him at length, sharing insights about the industry. This blog talks about solving the real estate marketer’s dilemma: Online vs Offline Advertising.

Ten years ago, real estate advertising was limited to print media advertising, billboards and radio. Real estate, being a very localised and targeted market, has never ventured on to the television. The TV was a costlier choice for real estate players, who were then left with only 2-3 traditional marketing approaches. The internet, thus, becomes the default choice for real estate marketers with its localised and targeted reach. In fact, 53% of real estate transactions in India are influenced by the Internet* making the ‘Research-Online-Purchase-Offline (ROPO)’ a popular trend.

In recent times, with the penetration of the internet, discovery of new information has become so much faster that it reaches millions of people in a matter of few seconds. India alone has more than 40** crore internet users (32% of our total population) and 110 Cr*** mobile subscribers. This has certainly affected the content consumption pattern in recent years.

So how has content consumption changed in the last 4-5 years?

In the last 4-5 years, discovery, accessibility and consumption of content has changed significantly. An average Indian consumer spends more than 3 hours on the Internet every day. People are always connected and are constantly consuming content and information through smartphones. In today’s world, you don’t need to wait for the next day’s newspaper, you get to know what’s happening in real time over social media and online news platforms. As people are spending more time online consuming content, the Internet has certainly taken away from traditional content publishing platforms like newspapers, magazines and the TV.
 

What does this mean to real estate marketers?

Marketers have started changing their marketing strategy and focusing on new media advertising, including but not limited to online advertising. Online advertising budgets have increased manifold in the last 4-5 years. I remember real estate companies would give us budgets of Rs.50,000 per month for online advertising - now, some of them are spending more than Rs.1,00,000 per day. Even so, many traditional marketers are not convinced about the effectiveness of online advertising over offline advertising. 
 

Here are a few reasons why marketers should seriously think of re-devising their strategy:

Advantages of online vs offline

Factors

Online Advertising(SEM,SEO, Social, Email, SMS etc.) Offline Advertising(Print/Magazine/Billboards)

Reach

More than 401 million internet users in India. Not more than 130 million with all newspapers.

Targeted

Demographics and intent based targeting possible Demographics and intent based targeted not available and hence lots of wastage in ad spending.

Measurable and data-driven

All advertising campaigns can be measured and data-driven decisions can be taken for increasing marketing ROI. There are no measurement metrics, and hence becomes difficult to improve ROI.

Cost-effective

Cost of reaching per person is less than Rs.0.5  Cost of reaching per person is more than Rs.5 (Print ads)
Engaging

Engaging ad content, websites & more can help you deliver interactive experiences for consumers

Not engaging or interactive for consumer. 

Global

Can be taken to a global audience. Audience is local and limited.
Visibility

Is delivered in silos in the virtual world, and hence may not feel like something big is happening - it has a subtle presence.

Is in the ‘real’ world, louder and makes a bold presence.

Offline and online mediums certainly have their own advantages and disadvantages, but if you use a combination of both media wisely based on the project size, ticket-size, audience and stage of the project, it will give you the best return on advertising spend. 
 

What is the right media mix?

For a typical real estate project with 2 BHKs of Rs. 50 lac and average per square feet rate of Rs. 5,000 with 100 units to be sold over period of 1 year.
Total revenue from the project - Rs.50 Cr
Approximate advertising budget - a minimum of 3% of total Revenue - Rs.1.5 Cr
Typical media mix and plan will be: 
 

Phase

Budget Digital Print Radio Billboard Duration Units to be sold

Pre-launch

Rs.15 Lac  100%(Rs.15 Lac) - - - 20-30 days 20
Launch Rs.60 Lac 30%(Rs.18 Lac) 30%(Rs.18 Lac)

10%(Rs.6 Lac)

30% (Rs.18 Lac) 30 days 35
Sustenance Rs.75 Lac 

70%(Rs.52.5 Lac) - 5 lac per month

- - 30% (Rs.22.5 Lac) 2.5 lac per month 10 months

45(4-5 per month)

Total Rs.1.5 Cr 57% (Rs.85.5 Lac) 12% (Rs. 18 Lac) 4% (Rs.6 lac)

27%(Rs.40.5 Lac)

1 year 100

From my perspective, the answer to the big question - Which one is more effective, online or offline? - is online because of its massive reach, cost-effectiveness, engagement, and measurability. I would still recommend OOH and radio advertisements, but definitely not print because of its low return on marketing investment.

In the next blog we will talk about new trends in real estate online advertising. Stay tuned!

Sources:
*Zinnov Research & Google
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_Internet_users
*** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecommunications_statistics_in_India
 

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