Online is now the go-to channel for Australian property advertising. What role does print have to play?

Properties have been flying off the shelves in Australia's heated and ultra-competitive real-estate market - the residential property price index grew 10.2 per cent in the year to March  - but it still takes the right kind of marketing campaign, targeted at the right people, to deliver a great result.
Online listings allow buyers to browse and compare properties based on location or other criteria, on their phones or at their computers. It's the first port of call for many agents and buyers, with revenues across platforms like Domain up accordingly.í
Given this trend, property sellers would be forgiven for thinking that the old way of marketing real estate - design an eye-catching ad, then place it in newspapers and real-estate magazines and wait for the calls to come in - was long past its due date.

Some realtors agree, arguing  that the high cost and low return of print campaigns can leave a bad taste in many sellers' mouths. Others believe print campaigns are a means  to increase sellers' financial investment in the sale of their property - motivating them to be more amenable to accept a lower offer.

Andrew Blachut, owner of PropertyNow, is adamant print advertising is a thing of the past, superseded by online advertising. "It plays virtually no role in my business. It is dead. Dead in the sense of return on investment too." The only time Mr Blachut runs print advertising is when a client specifically requests it. "I don't believe on the occasions when I have used print advertising that the property has sold any faster than if it were advertised online."

A December 2016 report indicated that print advertising revenues across Australia have been at an all-time low . In addition to the downward trajectory of print advertising in mass market newspapers, readership is also either flat or declining . However, smaller local newspapers remain a conduit to target audiences. Papers such as News Corporation's Messenger and Leader mastheads boast weekly circulations in the tens of thousands.

Research suggests that the longer a house is on the market, the likelier it is that the final sale price might be lower than desired . This makes an eye-catching solution, like a well-chosen outdoor ad or a strategically placed print ad, something that can pique customer interest. That first, emotional contact can engage with the customer and likely influence their choices.

Ric Serrao of Raine & Horne Double Bay, strongly believes there is value in print advertising. "You need to think of advertising property like different pieces of a puzzle. A variety of approaches are required, combining digital and print". Mr Serrao has serious concerns about using digital advertising alone due to search filters being too restrictive, preventing people from finding properties. "People are time poor, so they narrow down search filters. Time-after-time I have people coming to me shocked to hear about properties they've missed out on because they can't retrieve the listing in search results." A combination of print and digital, taking advantage of local publications, can mitigate the risk of people overlooking listings.

The emotional resonance of print advertising is also prevalent  through many consumer behaviour research studies. But the benefits of print are more than just emotional: research we offer through CoreLogic Media Maximiser can provide insights - using local market data - on the effectiveness of mixed media campaigns that include print advertising. This can help determine - for both the agent and the vendor - if the potential returns and audience of print as part of the marketing mix are justified. 

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