Internet Listing Services are Dying: The Future of Apartment Marketing

It’s true. Internet Listing Services (ILS) have traditionally been the primary means of marketing for apartment properties. However, recent years of data have proven that renters are no longer turning to the ILS giants when looking to sign a lease, but rather they are more prone to visit the apartment’s website directly.

What is an ILS?

Internet listing services are digital platforms that apartment properties can use to post about available units for rent. They typically allow for photos, rent prices, square footage, amenities and any other notable features about the property that may make someone want to sign a lease.

Popular ILS platforms include:

When you think about it, these services are generally doing the one thing that search engines and search engine optimization (SEO) can do for you – driving people to your website to lease online.

Why are ILS’s dying?

To start, the way we find and consume information has drastically changed in the past 20 years, not to mention the past five years. In today’s digital age, it is much less expensive to produce and distribute media online, so we don’t necessarily need a third party like an ILS to create these listings for us.  

Second, have you heard of Google? Search engine monsters have made it easy for users to find just about anything they need online. They allow you to easily and quickly find what it is you’re looking for with a few search terms, like “best apartments near me.”

Internet Listing Services in the past served as information indexes, in the same way that a phone book indexed contact information for your local body shop when your car needed fixing. If you needed a new job, the weekly classifieds in the paper were your best friend. Search engines have entirely transformed the individual index model by pretty much becoming the only index you could ever need.

Now, the only thing that ILS’s seem to be doing well is their Google Ad strategy. When you Google “best apartments near me” the first ad is generally for an ILS platform. But if that’s the only thing they have going for them, who’s to say we can’t take the monthly budget we’re giving to ILS and be able to produce better results? The difference between reallocating dollars to your own Google Ad campaign instead of relying on apartments.com’s Google Ad campaign is that we’re now promoting your property, not a listing service.

Also, mobile. We’re seeing that on average, over 50% of our website traffic for apartment properties comes from some sort of mobile device. Its more common for a general consumer to have a mobile device that connects to the internet than a personal computer. And yes, as surprising as it may be, people are searching for larger purchases like an apartment from their phones. (But if your website is hot and they find you after a quick Google search, they’ll click to call and boom. Lead.)

The Future of Apartment Marketing

So you’ve successfully ended your contract with ILS services because you read this blog post, but what does that mean for your newly available marketing dollars? Bye, bye ILS services and fees, hello increased Google Ad budget and stunning website.

Instead of dumping time and money into monthly ILS contracts, consider opting for a monthly Google Ads and SEO campaign, and make sure your website is top notch. 👌 All of these things mean increased control over budget, allocation, messaging, branding and analytics. Instead of relying on what forrent.com is saying your clicks and impressions are, you can dive into it directly to see what people are searching for and how you and your apartment website can better serve users.

Not sure how or where to start? Check out these four steps on improving your apartment’s Google Ads and then get in touch with Brindle to see about ramping up your apartment marketing initiatives.

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