CoStar Group, the $34 billion real estate analytics company, debuted the Super Bowl with four high-gloss ads Sunday night, buying more airtime than Pepsi and even perennial favorite Budweiser, which only bought each two multi-million dollar spaces in the biggest football event. evening.
The commercials, three for Homes.com, a CoStar subsidiary, and one for another subsidiary, Apartments.com, were just the kickoff of a planned year-long barrage of advertising for new housing search portals. CoStar CEO Andy Florance said he hopes the media blitz will give the company dominance over rival home search sites. Last year, Homes.com announced it had reached 100 million monthly visitors, behind Zillow but ahead of Redfin and Realtor.com.
On its website, Homes.com touts a $1 billion marketing campaign, describing the investment as “the largest marketing campaign in the history of real estate.” In the weeks following the big game, the website promises that “Homes.com will be everywhere from morning to night,” with a continuous advertising rollout that will include radio, streaming platforms and prime-time television.
The combined two minutes and 15 seconds of ads that aired while the Kansas City Chiefs battled the San Francisco 49ers likely cost $35 million, according to Ad Age. The four ads were hosted by celebrities Jeff Goldblum, Dan Levy and Heidi Gardner, with a cameo by rapper Lil Wayne, whose alter egos negotiated with aliens and smashed the windows of an office building with an oversized champagne cork. . In each part, the actors wreaked small havoc on residential communities as they performed. Neighborhood recognition for potential homebuyers. And in not one but two of the ads, Levy and Gardner escaped danger in a Homes.com-branded helicopter, its blades whirring and whirring over a football game and a quiet cul-de-sac.
It's a deal that's likely to pay off, advertising experts said Monday.
“Companies sometimes make the mistake of running an ad in the Super Bowl and then disappearing,” said Mitch Burg, former president of MediaEdge, a media buying company, and the Syndicated Network Television Association. “If you do that, your name recognition will disappear too. But if you're running for the Super Bowl as part of the launch of a campaign that you plan to maintain, then it's a very smart way to achieve reach.”
And for a company with cash flow, running four ads instead of just one can have an impact, Burg said.
“If you break down the commercials, beyond Dan Levy, Heidi Gardner and Jeff Goldblum, really what they kept bringing was simple: name recognition,” he said.
CoStar, which acquired Apartments.com in 2014, added Homes.com in 2021. Since then, the company has been actively courting both real estate agents and home buyers, while poking fun at its competitors.
Florance, who founded CoStar in a dorm room in 1986, refers to a trio of rival sites (Zillow, Realtor.com and Redfin) as “Ziltorfin” and has accused them of using bait-and-switch tactics to lure users to their home. buyers and then sell their contact information to dozens of anonymous real estate agents.
Representatives for Zillow declined to comment and representatives for Realtor.com did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Alina Ptaszynski, a spokesperson for Redfin, noted that unlike Redfin, agents are charged fees for advertising on Homes.com. She said that while brokerages and the National Association of Realtors face legal challenges over commission rates, sky-high marketing budgets would only increase their costs.
“The billions being spent on Lil Wayne and this whole Super Bowl spectacle are just a sideshow if all of that doesn't help people move toward a better life,” he said. “And with these huge demands for high brokerage commissions, the real question is: who pays for them? “Agents spend thousands of dollars a month to appear on these portals, costs that are passed on to the consumer.”
In November, at the National Association of Realtors' flagship real estate conference, CoStar sponsored the largest booth in the Anaheim Convention Center exhibit hall, plastered its logo on buses used by agents, and hosted a private concert and free Goo Goo Dolls. for attendees.
The Super Bowl ad buy was the latest salvo.
In an interview with The New York Times in December, Florance recalled having dinner with Levy in London and laughing at a 2021 skit on Saturday Night Live that included Levy and Gardner. In it, several SNL cast members browsed Zillow.com late at night in a manner similar to phone sex, and were then bombarded with calls from real estate agents.
On those sites, Mr. Florance said, “They usually sell it as a lead to some unrelated agent,” which leads to home buyers being bombarded with cold-call applications. “That's a bad customer experience,” he added. “As a real estate agent, you don't want Saturday Night Live to parody the consumer experience.”