Print vs. Internet Advertising – Who’s Your Winner?

May 12th, 2011 by Ori Klein

We recently conducted a survey on the 2010 Real Estate Auction Industry polling our vast client list in the biz on various topics including Advertising Allocation. Surprisingly, we discovered that print remains at the top of the list in advertising vehicles, with 45% of our respondents choosing the print route as their main source of advertising. This was followed by Internet advertising, with 30% of respondents utilizing the Web for marketing and promotion. With the onslaught of upgrades, gadgets and new venues in technology over the past 5 years alone, along with the boom of real estate auctions, it made me wonder why so many in the industry still look to print as their chief mode of advertising. I decided to take another look at the print vs. Internet debate.

I’ll be honest: this is a blog, so of course I’m pro-Internet and maybe somewhat biased. Now you be honest: you can’t ignore the numbers and the bottom-line logic Internet advertising has to offer. There is a slew of Internet advertising options that reach a nationwide audience of every demographic, and some of that advertising can be free. FREE! Blogs, SEO strategies, and the gargantuan social media network offer your company and listings exposure that doesn’t have to cost you a dime. Some realtors are starting to use YouTube as well, with the videos of their listings linking back to either the agent’s own website or the company’s site. Again, no cost.

Internet ad options with a price tag are plentiful and usually less expensive than print, while reaching a wider audience. Banner ads, microsites, email campaigns, pop-ups – creative, colorful and eye-grabbing, these ads demand attention and get it. And let’s not forget about mobile marketing – yet another technological advancement that’s changing the advertising landscape, and we want to not only keep up with it but capitalize on it.

There are also tracking benefits to Internet marketing that you just can’t get with print. You can get tangible data on how many clicks or views you’re getting, and readjust the ad if you need to based on that information. With the economy the way it is, everyone wants and needs more for less. The Internet route of marketing seems to be offering a lot of bang for your buck.

Yet some people continue to gravitate toward the printed word – it’s how things have always been done and change can be unpopular. Many home sellers automatically expect their listing to be in the newspaper since that’s how real estate has been promoted for decades. People may also be hesitant with going techno since there is the chance of glitches – a website not working properly, an email blast gone awry, etc. Many who are unfamiliar with the Web are less likely to trust their advertising dollars with it. Older sellers are particularly resistant to online advertising, viewing print as more reliable and ‘safe’. In turn, buyers who find real estate through newspaper ads are usually over 35 years old.

Still, the tide does seem to be turning: reports that “Home buyers in the U.S. are twice as likely to use online sources than print sources to find information about open houses they are interested in, according to a survey commissioned by Trulia and conducted by Harris Interactive.” This particular study was conducted in 2009 – I think it’s safe to say the numbers on the Internet side have most likely gone up.

Again, I realize that I’m not exactly objective. But the unparalleled variety, limitless audience and ease on the marketing budget make the Internet the place I’m going to go to with my promotional aspirations and I’m going to encourage all my clients and colleagues to do the same. I’ll always love the printed word, but when it comes to smart business, my marketing/advertising heart beats for the World Wide Web.

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2 Responses

  1. Mike Russo says:

    I enjoyed your post. I have some specific comments, but I think my background makes it more creditable rather than random comments.

    I am the past owner of Aspen Sotheby’s, founder in Rezora(e-mail marketing company), and partner in Concierge Auctions(

    As a founder in a tech company I strongly believe in everything you say. But, in selling luxury homes at auction it isn’t enough. We still rely heavily on print not because sellers demand it, but because it works for us. All of the SEO, PPC, social, and e-mail are important and we cover them all. The success of them in selling a home in 5 weeks is really a result of how strong of a database you have built.

    If you would like to expand conversation feel free to read a blog post I wrote for Rezora on PPC vs SEO.

    Thank you.

  2. Guy Blume says:

    In the July 2010, the Market Trends publication put out by the California Association of Realtors surveyed buyers on a number of issues including how they found their home. See an excerpt below:

    “Buyers also reported on the importance of the Internet in the home search process. The top three websites visited by buyers were, real estate brokerage websites and individual agent websites, with Zillow a close fourth. Print advertising is a far less effective advertising tool, with only 8
    percent of buyers using it to search for a home, compared to 20 percent in 2006.

    This indicates that agents would receive more value for their money by investing in their websites and advertising their listings on the websites most frequented by buyers. Moreover, a content-rich website provides
    buyers with multiple pictures, virtual tours, statistics on comparable sales or listings, and a neighborhood profile in the online listings they browse, which is so much more valuable to them than the limited, static information
    that is found in the typical print ad.”

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