Rightmove, The Local Press And The Craigslist Effect

Could the recession and the accompanying slump in the housing market see a permanent shift in property advertising from paper to online?

If so, that spells more bad news for the struggling local newspaper.

Rightmove, the property website, certainly believes that there is a significant change in advertiser sentiment. Its commercial director Miles Shipside, quoted in today’s Guardian, says:

“One of the benefits of the downturn is that it has broken a habit of 50 years of advertising in newspapers … When spend becomes more available to estate agents, we are confident they will stay with us because home-mover habits are to search online.” 

Well, he would say that wouldn’t he.

But the figures, what they are, do suggest a shift. Rightmove’s share of the property advertising market has “grown substantially” with the number of letting agencies using its service up 15 per cent since the beginning of 2009. Holiday lettings are up 18 per cent.

And despite a difficult period for the sector in general, Rightmove had more visitors to its site during August than at any time in its nine-year history.

In a sense the advertiser is merely catching up with the consumer.

A search-driven activity like looking for a new house is made for the web. While property websites may lack the portability of the local paper or property magazine, the practical advantage of a giant, searchable database are there for all to see.

We’ve been here before, of course.

Craigslist and eBay have taken a huge chunk out of the traditional classifieds business in the United States. According to Chris Anderson in Free, Craig Newmark’s no-charge listings have wiped $30bn off newspaper companies’ stock market valuation .

And one look at the trend from newspaper to online advertising in the US, such as the one above from Silicon Alley Insider is enough to give local newspaper execs nightmares.

thelondonpaper’s Demise: Word From The Blogosphere
Scarcity, Abundance And The Misapprehension Of Online Advertising
What if the business model for news ain’t broke?

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