When the global COVID-19 pandemic hit Australian shores in early 2020, it had ramifications that struck society in varying ways, including throwing a spanner in the works of advertising and selling newly launched residential developments.
For Yeerongpilly Green, in Brisbane’s south, it meant the advertising campaign for the riverside suburb was swiftly halted.
“Everything completely stopped,” Consolidated Properties Head of Residential James MacGinley says.
“We basically pulled everything offline, the sales centre closed, and we just stopped selling it entirely.”
For months the first stage of the development, comprising 10 townhouses and 92 apartments, sat idle, waiting, before finally, in May 2021, it was time to relaunch Yeerongpilly Green to the market.
James says for that to happen, two things needed to proceed. The development needed a fresh, bold rebrand to signal that everything was back on track and a stellar advertising campaign had to take Yeerongpilly Green to the market swiftly and successfully.
All of the signage on the 14ha site, which had sat dormant, was taken down and replaced with the new brand, which switched from being in muted, darker colours to a vibrant new vision in bright orange hues.
“We wanted to make sure that people knew something was happening there, and we weren’t completely shutting up shop because of COVID-19,” MacGinley says.
A press campaign in The Courier-Mail followed, as did a digital campaign using News Corp Australia’s News Xtend suite of tools.
“The quality of the campaign needs to match the quality of what you’re producing, and so that is certainly the way we approached it at Yeerongpilly,” James says.
the campaign involved search engine marketing, News Corp Australia targeted display advertising combined with targeted display ads on non-News Corp Australia premium websites, Facebook advertising and YouTube ads where you only pay for a complete view, and it worked.
James says the advertising campaign resulted in exceptional lead generation and inquiry numbers, which were up to four times higher each week than the targets they had set.
“We blew our goal completely out of the water with that News Xtend campaign,” he says.
Located just 7km south of the CBD and nestled on the banks of the Brisbane River, Yeerongpilly is a developing suburb that’s swiftly going places.
James says at the moment Yeerongpilly only has about 800 dwellings, but by the time Yeerongpilly Green is complete, in time for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games, there will be an additional 1500 apartments and townhouses.
Yeerongpilly Green will also feature an active retail, dining and commercial hub including butchers and bakers, restaurants and cafes, as well as lush parklands and riverside landscapes.
“We’re effectively creating almost an entire suburb,” James says.
“A large part of that is that the project we’re developing takes up close to one-third of Yeerongpilly, and then another third is taken up by the Brisbane Golf Course, which is just on the other side of the train line.”
James says Yeerongpilly was not a well-known suburb prior to advertising for Yeerongpilly Green starting, which made the marketing campaign twice as important.
“A lot of people in Brisbane hadn’t heard of Yeerongpilly as a suburb before,” James says.
“That really meant that the advertising campaign to create awareness of the area was just as important as the advertising campaign to promote the product.”
The print campaign
The press campaign for Yeerongpilly Green lasted for six weeks, with double-page ads in The Courier-Mail real estate section.
“That helped us move through our high price stock,” James notes.
“The properties that we were advertising in The Courier-Mail, we focused on them being the penthouses or the high-end terrace homes that we were selling.
“That campaign definitely helped and worked.”
James says the target market for Yeerongpilly Green was broad, with one aim of the development to create a diverse community spanning end-to-end on the age spectrum.
Similarly, this is why the developers wanted to use both a print and digital marketing campaign to ensure they captured every possible buyer.
“The mix of units we had in the first stage went all the way from reasonably modest one-bedders up to the $1.4 million, four-bedroom townhouses and everywhere in between,” James says.
“The buyers that have come through are a mix… we do have the downsizer retirees, but then we’ve got a lot of first-home buyers as well in their 20s and young families in their 30s and 40s too.
Yeerongpilly Green also featured in a range of news and feature articles online and in print in The Australian’s realcommercial liftout, The Courier-Mail, and the At Home supplement featured in The Courier-Mail.
The coverage started in 2015 and continued at regular intervals since, which James says has been invaluable.
“We have quite a good relationship on the ground here with The Courier-Mail, and particularly the real estate team,” James explains.
“Our Chief Executive Officer, Don O’Rorke, has spent a lot of time building that relationship, and we’re often called upon for general market commentary, and a lot of the reporters knew what was going on at Yeerongpilly, so they would pick up the phone when they were doing a story that was relevant.
“All of the editorials we got were either through them approaching us for comment or maybe, once or twice, us sending a press release.”
James says when the media they have a good relationship with approaches them for comment they do everything they can to assist.
“We appreciate the deadline-driven nature of how they work,” he says.
“When it came to Yeerongpilly, it (the editorial) really helped us. It carries a lot of weight.
“In the Brisbane market, the real estate section on the weekend is the Bible. Everyone loves it, and people do really read it cover to cover.
“When an editorial would come out, we would always have people call up and say, ‘I read about this in the paper, can you tell me more about it?’”
The digital campaign
The News Xtend campaign included News Corp Australia targeted display ads, Google ads, targeted display ads on premium non-News Corp Australia sites, Facebook ads, pay per completed view YouTube video ads and retargeting.
News Xtend General Manager of Operations Dale Foenander says it is critical to explain to advertising clients that the News Xtend package isn’t just a “catch all” approach to marketing but one that can target specific audiences.
“The other thing we find is that there’s often not a great understanding about the importance of a cross-channel strategy and making sure you’re using all channels to target your users,” he says.
Dale says as well as using News Corp Australia’s targeted display advertising, the campaign featured an off-network component that extended the reach of the campaign and targeted buyers “wherever they are”.
“There will be users who might discover your brand when browsing news sites, but we want to make sure we’re not limiting our targeting to the premium audiences on News Corp sites, instead targeting your ideal audience wherever they are on the web,” he says.
Dale explains there are two strategies employed with targeted display advertising.
“There’s what we term our ‘new audiences’, which is about using a predefined set of audiences that are based on the type of user that we want to target for this particular development,” he says.
“Then there’s retargeting strategies, which is about reminding the audience about the product or campaign once they have expressed interest by visiting your website, staying in front of them when they are active and encouraging them to inquire.”
Dale says a digital campaign works hand-in-hand with its press equivalent to generate the best results.
“They work really well together, which is why we have a blended approach because a user on a News Corp Australia site, sees the ad and clicks through to the website, then they might go to Google and conduct a search for the development because they’ve seen the ad and been on the website.
“For example, If they’re visiting via a paid search ad, then we can retarget them on YouTube, and if they see the ad on YouTube, we can retarget them on search.
“We can use targeted audiences to find them on YouTube when they’re in the market but haven’t yet discovered your brand, to drive them to your website. We can do the same on Facebook.
“So a blended approach is really important.”
A bespoke approach
Dale says that every News Xtend campaign is bespoke and tailored specifically to the individual client’s needs, which is why YouTube was a great advertising channel for Yeerongpilly Green.
“YouTube wouldn’t be something that someone would naturally think of as an important part of the strategy, but it was a really important part given the impact video can have on storytelling, and YouTube has such high visitation and usage,” he says.
James says YouTube was an excellent “branding exercise” and was an ideal option because they had already shot a lifestyle video for the development.
“For us to shuffle some of our spend onto YouTube was a nice, complementary way to get the brand message out there,” he says.
“We were getting full play-throughs of that video, which was incredible. Normally with YouTube, people will watch 15 seconds of the ad and then click on something else, but with our video, which was two to three minutes long, we were getting full play-throughs.
“It just complimented all of the other channels, and together everything just worked.”
Attention to detail
James says the campaign worked because it paid fine attention to detail, was specifically tailored to the development and knew its target audience.
He says while Consolidated Properties planned to sell the first stage of the development over about a year, it sold in just five months.
“The News Xtend campaign included a suite of digital and print marketing tools that all targeted different things, but collectively did a really good job at lead generation,” he says.
“It helped create a sales funnel where people were inputting their details and wanting to find out more.”