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Apr 24 2017

Property portal wars – unfair tactics?

Rightmove has long been established as the most popular property portal, and although the market has been referred to as a duopoly, particularly with trying to gain its share, it might surprise you to know that Rightmove attracts 2.4 times the amount of monthly visits that Zoopla does. In real terms, this means that Rightmove get 70 million visits more per month than Zoopla, so in the battle for eyes, it's clear that Rightmove have the upper hand.

Zoopla have been fairly aggressive in their marketing strategies, and their advertising budget must be pretty substantial. Not only are they not shy in liberal tv advertising, billboards and bus stop posters, but they have been amassing quite an army of 'auxiliary' services.

In some of their latest acquisitions, Zoopla Property Group has been buying up property software companies. This has attracted the interest of The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), who are in particular investigating their latest takeover of “Expert Agent”.

Zoopla Property Group has a similar track record of buying utilities companies, moving companies and even finance companies. Essentially, it seems they want to have their fingers in all of the property pies that are available, now even ranging as far as property software. The concern for the consumer is that this latest acquisition will give Zoopla access to a massive database of homemovers, and information that should theoretically just be between the chosen portal and the estate agent. If this merger is allowed, they will have positioned themselves between agents and Rightmove, which is perhaps the basis for invoking competition laws.

Zoopla seems intent on gaining home-movers data, be it directly through its member agents, enticing them to its ‘price comparison’ site Uswitch or, as it appears now, through purchasing estate agency software firms who hold the the details of millions of customers, past and present in those agencies' databases!! It is hard to believe that this data will not be used to sell all of Zoopla’s other offerings too. Is this what a consumer expects when marketing their property with a 'Zoopla' agent? Lastly, if I were Rightmove, I would be increasingly concerned when my main competitor is increasingly ‘controlling’ the feeds of properties to my portal. It will be interesting to see how this unravels and we look forward to hearing the CMA views.

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