Internet Listing Services: Worth the hidden costs?

For years, Internet Listing Services (ILS) have dominated the apartment digital marketing scene. And for a while, it made perfect sense to use a listing service to advertise your apartment rentals. Paying a listing service to promote your apartment seemed sensible, easy and effective. But all that is changing.  

The reign of ILS’s is slowly coming to an end for a number of reasons, e.g. Google makes it easier for searchers to find info on individual apartment complexes, and it’s becoming increasingly less expensive for apartments to produce and distribute their own media online.

What many apartment marketers don’t realize, however, is that ILS’s come with extreme hidden costs. These costs suck marketing budgets dry and result in little payout. Let’s delve into some of these expenses:

High Cost of ILS Advertising

While this cost may not exactly be hidden, it is certainly worth mentioning because of the results. Typically, when you dole out money for advertising initiatives, you expect a guaranteed payoff (a set number of banner ads running across customers’ screens, an expected audience reach via social ads, placement in the Sunday newspaper, etc.).

But with advertising on ILS’s, you have no guarantee of placement. The poorer your ad is performing, the more you will be pressured to upgrade your advertising package – which still does not have guaranteed payoff.

ILS Listings Take Away from Website Traffic

Which search result would you rather have potential customers click on? Your ILS apartment listing or your actual apartment website? We’re guessing your individual website. When you pour money into an ILS listing, you’re competing with yourself for Google search traffic.

Competition from Other Apartments Diminishes Value

Every marketer knows that uniqueness sells. If your apartment is being compared to your competition on an ILS, its value decreases because it gets lost in a sea of other apartment listings. When prospective residents visit an apartment’s website, however, they have the chance to view all the unique aspects of a complex, thus increasing its overall value. When it comes down to it, differentiation drives prices up.

Lack of Demand Reduces Number of Potential Residents

When new customers come across your apartment through an ILS, it not only drives your ability to charge way down, but it also reduces your converted leads tremendously. When your listing is surrounded by competition, searchers are just as likely (if not more likely) to become their converted lead instead of yours.

If ILS’s are overtaking your marketing budget but you still need to promote your business, where should those dollars be invested instead? Consider cutting your ILS contract and instead ramp up your Google Ad spend and SEO campaigns. The ability to control your budget, messaging, branding and analytics is a huge advantage when refining your marketing strategy.

If you’re ready to get started with the new wave of apartment digital marketing, the Brindle crew can help. Get in touch with us to start converting leads today.

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