Getting More Mobile

Tony Blamey is the new GM of Real Estate at Fairfax. This encompasses Domain, Domain.com.au, Commercialrealestate.com.au, Australian Property Monitors and Commerce Australia. Tony spoke exclusively to Sold Magazine about his plans for the future.

Tony Blamey is the new GM of Real Estate at Fairfax. This encompasses Domain, Domain.com.au, Commercialrealestate.com.au, Australian Property Monitors and Commerce Australia. He is responsible for national sales, product development, and marketing for products across all brands, and covering all mediums. Tony spoke exclusively to Sold Magazine about his plans for the future. His goal: to continue to build on record breaking audiences in print and online, as well as taking a true leadership position for the business in the mobile space.

Tony,congratulations on the new role, and thank-you for taking the time to have a chat to us. What will be your priorities for the next 6 – 12 months? There’s an enormous amount of technological change happening at the moment including a rapid uptake of smart phone use in addition to the iPad and other tablet devices. As a media company, there’s a great deal of opportunity for us to open up these platforms to new audiences.

We are told that mobile will take over desktop use in the next three years, so there will be a considerable amount of emphasis on this. Possibly, mobile is to the Internet what the Internet was to print several years ago and should be treated as a brand new platform. We’ve already tried to take the lead in this space. We’ve built applications on the iPhone, Android platform and Windows 7 that are all generating terrific value back to our advertisers. Now we are seeing around one in every seven leads to our agents coming from the iPhone application, and that figure is growing. Positioning the company amongst mobile technology and tablet devices will be increasingly important and a clear focus going forward.

I think the other priority over the next 12 months will be to continue to improve the quality and range of consumer tools. I believe we now lead the market in terms of the range of consumer tools that we have, and we’ve invested heavily in that. For example our radar search has been a unique value–add for consumers looking for property on the Domain site. We have an inspection planner available; and now have an investor centre which has rich content for the investor audience. These initiatives are making researching property easier and more accurate than it has been in the past.

Do you think mobile will ever completely replace print and desktop? No, not completely. I think all of those different platforms will have their place and they serve different purposes. As time goes on we will understand those platforms in more detail. The way content is provided on these platforms is quite different. A good example is the launch this month of the native iPad apps for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. The company has taken a decidedly different approach to those apps than we have in either print or traditional online sites. They are a more visual medium, almost a magazine format, so you are presented with larger photos and more video content. The term “curated content” is used. Content is curated on the iPad device to suit readers. It is somewhat different to online viewing. Online is an almost endless array of content, whereas the iPad app we’re treating more like a tailored daily serve of content. Of course, Domain editorial content can be accessed through those iPad apps.

Print advertising still has its place because it allows you to get your brand out into the market and that helps to create demand. Buyers and vendors still look at who has achieved a brand presence within their local market, and those agents will be the ones vendors go to when listing their property. Hence print will continue to be important from that perspective.

We will also be focussing on new content sources; video being an important one, which again, enhances the consumer experience, and importantly gives agents a new opportunity to talk to vendors and buyers.

So are you seeing more Australian agents move towards video property marketing?

Yes we are. Twelve months ago it was unproven, a few agents were dabbling in it, but it certainly was not on the radar for many of them. I think that has changed significantly over the past twelve months. What we are finding today is that more and more agents are trying to make video a standard part of the advertising schedule that they provide to their vendors. Technology is always evolving. For example, you would not market a house now without photography; it’s just a standard part of selling a house. If you cast your mind back 20, 25 years, there weren’t any photos to market properties. All of the print advertisements had line drawings. It would not surprise me if, in the not too distant future, that video was a standard part of every single property that gets sold, and we’re seeing that already with agents who genuinely want to have a point of difference.

What characteristics do the most successful listings have?

I think from a print point of view, size certainly matters! Also the more photography within the print listing, the better. With regards to online, the more content the better. More photos not less, and naturally video content! Pricing information is also crucial. The more pricing information that can be published, the better, people want a price range so they know up front if that particular property is within their budget.

MyDesktop has continued to gain popularity, what new things will we see in MyDesktop in the future?

The MyDesktop product development is led primarily by what clients need. There are now thousands of agents using MyDesktop and they actually dictate the product pathway. We regularly run user groups with clients and that’s an opportunity for agents to say, “Hey, we’ve got some un–met needs that we want you to think about”. This drives the product innovation around MyDesktop. One of the recent things launched with MyDesktop, for example, was the iPhone app. It allows agents to collect information such as contact details when they are out at Open for Inspections which feeds directly back into the My Desktop system. There are initiatives like this which have been designed to make the agent’s life easier.

What new products, or new areas of investment, will we see from Domain in the future?

An all–time record high audience for Domain has just been reached, we’re now over 3.8 million unique browsers on Domain for the month of May; and the unique audience continues to grow as well, with more than 2 million UB’s not visiting our main competitor. We will continue to invest in audience acquisition over the coming 12 months and beyond, which will add more value to agents.

Increasingly we will introduce new product lines including photography and copywriting services. We’ll start moving into areas like brochures and signboards. The reason we’re doing this is that we feel if we can offer a wide range of products to agents to assist them in getting the overall cost of running a real estate agency down, it will be a win–win situation. Our objective is to grow our business through diversifying, and having more product lines to drive our incremental revenue, rather than just aggressively increasing rates continually on our traditional services.

Also, we are trying to streamline the way we work with customers. However I think we still need to improve in this area; we are continuing investment in face to face representation. More people are out speaking to agents than ever before, which I feel is necessary to build relationships with customer, adding further value to their businesses.

If we can help an agent run their business by helping them to do tasks more efficiently with less suppliers, that’s great. We would like our customers to focus on their core business, which is listing and selling property. If we can help in this process, then we will have achieved our goal.

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Tony Blamey

Tony Blamey is the Chief Commercial Officer at Domain and an experienced C-level digital media business leader.