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Realtor.com CEO Damian Eales: CoStar is lying about being the No. 2 portal

The so-called portal wars heated up this week, when Realtor.com CEO Damian Eales made comments about rival CoStar Group’s Homes.com during the MLS Forum at the National Association of Realtorsannual legislative meeting.

In his remarks, Eales took issue with CoStar’s claims that Homes.com has surpassed Realtor.com as the second most-trafficked home search site, according to Inman, which first reported on Eales’ remarks.

During his talk, Eales noted that Securities and Exchange Commission filings from CoStar Group show that “[its traffic] number includes 17 separate websites, 16 of which are not associated with Homes.com.”

Eales elaborated on this further in his prepared remarks during NewsCorp’s earnings call with investors on Wednesday.

“If Zillow is the hungry Lion, then perhaps CoStar is the wolf in sheep’s clothing. A new competitor who plays by their own rules. We are calling out the falsehoods in their audience claims at the moment,” Eales said. “They advertise that they have an audience of 156 million for Homes.com, which is plain wrong.”

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

In an email, a Realtor.com spokesperson clarified that this was in reference to “ads across real estate news sites,” in which “CoStar is claiming an audience of 156M for Homes.com, some without readable footnotes and others with none at all, but that number is actually for their Residential Network traffic, which includes 17 URLS.” 

CoStar Group first announced that its Residential Network had exceeded 156 million monthly unique visitors and that the Homes.com site had surpassed 110 million monthly unique visitors, based on data from Google Analytics, in its Q1 2024 investor presentation. 

The commercial real estate giant confirmed that its “Residential Network” does include the 17 sites referenced by Eales and Realtor.com. This network includes Homes.com, as well as Apartments.com, Homesnap and CitySnap. In an email, a spokesperson for CoStar noted that it has only ever used the traffic figure specifically for Homes.com to claim that it is second in popularity.

According to NewsCorp’s fiscal year 2024 third quarter earnings released on May 8, 2024, Realtor.com had 72 million average monthly unique users of the portal’s web and mobile sites based on Move’s internal data.

In an email, a Realtor.com spokesperson clarified that Move Inc., the parent company of Realtor.com, uses Adobe Analytics for its internal traffic tracking.

In his remarks this week, Eales also claimed that based on “independent sources,” “Homes.com is No. 4.”

Realtor.com clarified that the independent source referenced by Eales is media tracking and evaluation solution ComScore.

Data from ComScore shows that in March 2024, Zillow had 112 million unique monthly users, Realtor.com has 54 million unique monthly users, Redfin recorded 41 million unique monthly users, and Homes.com had 39 million unique monthly users.

For all four sites, ComScore’s numbers are much lower than those reported by the firms’ via other analytics providers, which can be attributed to the fact that ComScore relies on a sample group and has stricter session recording criteria that excludes short visits and bot traffic, while others, such as Google Analytics, captures all visits by default.

In the web analytics marketplace, Google Analytics has 70.84% market share, while Adobe Analytics, which is used by Realtor.com, has a 1.49% market share and ComScore has 0.31% market share, according to data from 6sense.

“Move CEO Damian Eales’ comments about Homes.com web traffic at the MLS Forum of the Realtors Legislative Meetings were defamatory and frankly desperate. Earlier this year, Homes.com, the fastest growing portal in the U.S., launched the industry’s largest marketing campaign to drive hundreds of millions of visits back to Homes.com, where all agents benefit. The results are clear, Homes.com had more monthly unique visitors than Realtor.com, whether you look at our Homes.com Network or just Homes.com alone,” a CoStar spokesperson wrote in an email.

“For March 2024, our Homes.com Network (which includes Homes.com, the Apartments Network and the Land Network), had 156 million monthly unique visitors, according to Google Analytics, which is more than double, and Homes.com alone had 110 million monthly unique visitors, according to Google Analytics, which is substantially more, than what Move has self-reported based on its own ’internal data,’” the statement continued.

In September, Homes.com recorded over 100 million unique monthly visitors, a 1290% increase over the year prior, according data from Google Analytics. Since hitting that milestone the firm has kept up its aggressive — and expensive — advertising campaign. In February, CoStar aired four advertisements during the broadcast of Super Bowl LVIII between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. According the firm, it has spent roughly $1 billion on its advertising campaign.

Earlier this year CoStar launched the monetization of Homes.com memberships. In Q1 2024, the sales team for Homes.com generated nearly $40 million in net new bookings.

“This is by far the strongest sales launch of any product in the company’s history, and we are raising our sales and revenue forecast for Homes.com for the full year 2024,” Andy Florance, the CEO of CoStar Group, said during the firm’s Q1 earnings call with investors.

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