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Realtor.com pulls the plug on internet portals, focus is on mobile

(Business News) Realtor.com nixes relationships with internet portals as the race for mobile users’ eyeballs heats up.

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pull plug on portals

Making a big move and pulling the plug

Realtor.com will be announcing later today that they plan to pull the plug on internet portals to focus on their own portfolio of online and offline channels, representing the first of the Big Three (Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia) to make such a move, effectively ending their agreements with all portals, including MSN, so you’ll no longer see Realtor.com-powered listings on various sites across the internets.

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The strategy shift means that the company will be focusing on their own mobile and desktop products to drive traffic, which sheds light on their finally agreeing with our long-held assertion that the best proof in the pudding is if consumers actually visit your native website rather than counting traffic as people who saw your listings somewhere floating around the web, even without knowing the source.

A shift in tone and wording

Realtor.com operator, Move, Inc. is using phrases like “the most accurate U.S. residential listings,” which saves consumers from the “anguish wasting time with listings that are off the market or priced incorrectly,” and they assert that their marketing is the effectively attracting “transaction-ready consumers” to their services.

Sources inside Move tell us that they’ve been in research mode for some time, and Move, Inc. CMO, Barbara O’Connor tells us, “In my role as CMO, I’m responsible for driving brand, audience growth and engagement. This strategic shift in our marketing acquisition strategy has been taking place for well over the past 12 months. My recommendation to shift our strategy was based on key metrics, new channel performance testing, and optimization driven by the results.”

We take this to mean that this is not a knee-jerk reaction to any staff changes, and done regardless of former staff potentially knowing their shifting strategy. Also regarding timing, because of the confidentiality of agreements with portals like MSN, Move cannot comment as to who initiated the severing of ties, so this could either be a bold move by Realtor.com to focus internally, a reaction to a major portal initiating the end of the relationship, or it could always be mutual.

The world is going mobile and the race is on

The truth is that consumers are shifting to mobile search through apps, and as for Realtor.com, residential listings viewed on mobile devices overtook the number of views on the desktop site by January 2013, just three years after the launch of their first mobile app. In a statement, the company emphasizes the shift toward mobile, with nearly 60 percent of all Realtor.com residential listings being viewed on mobile apps, citing that mobile consumers spend more time reviewing listings and photos in a single session, “which is a strong indication they are more ready to buy or sell than desktop computer users.”

The world is going mobile. Guess who’s winning the mobile race by an insanely wide margin? Zillow. The race isn’t even close, and while there is a behind-the-scenes race between Trulia and Realtor.com for the number two spot, when it comes to mobile, it’s going to take big moves like this to narrow the gap between Zillow that the competitors they’re leaving in the mobile dust.

What Realtor.com plans to do

Instead of sitting on their hands, Realtor.com will be focused exclusively on their own apps and sites and will “regularly enhance native applications for Android, iPad and iPhone as well as create native mobile applications for new platforms.” They will also invest more time and resources into marketing, particularly with their co-branded venture with the National Association of Realtors.

“Integrated marketing across all devices coupled with brand awareness not only builds a larger audience, it also creates brand advocates,” said Barbara O’Connor, chief marketing officer of Move, Inc. “Creating an ongoing emotional connection with our brand’s unique ability to deliver accurate, real-time listings is key to growing and retaining our audience. Our advocates reward us with referrals and keep coming back to realtor.com® for services and information.”

Will others pull the plug?

If the focus is now on marketing and mobile and the value of internet portals is diminishing, will the others follow suit or will they slide into Realtor.com’s old spots in hopes of branding or driving traffic? Zillow wasn’t always number one in traffic, and as the ebb and flow of business goes, they may not always be in that spot, but unless Realtor.com and Trulia make more moves of this nature (instead of assuming the tide will change), the gap is going to widen, maybe even at an accelerated pace.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Drew Meyers

    May 8, 2014 at 1:59 am

    So they are essentially going to give all MSN’s traffic to either Zillow or Trulia? Surely, one of those two will pick that deal up, and all the traffic that goes with it.

    • JoeLoomer

      May 8, 2014 at 6:51 am

      Drew, that was my first thought too – that, and it’s an SEO win for the rest of us?

      Navy Chief, Navy Pride

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Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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Business News

Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?

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Woman in car working on engineering now allowed a flexible schedule for working from home.

The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.

As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.

And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.

Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.

How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.

Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

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