'Real estate in a digitised world' was the theme of a knowledge seminar hosted by the Indian Chapter of the International Advertising Association (IAA) in Mumbai on 2 August.
At the event for the realty sector, Nitin Bawankule, industry director, Google, spoke on 'Search engine marketing and view from Google'.
Bawankule started with a personal anecdote. Based in Gurgaon, he was interested in buying property in Mumbai. For this, he visited the builder’s website. All he got to see was the name of the builder and a picture of the building, with minimal inputs. He was taken aback - he revealed that websites of real estate companies globally provide an opportunity to let one ‘walk through’ the house virtually.
Digital, being an interactive medium, provided an excellent option for marketers, he contended. Real estate can be bought online as a marketer can find and close leads on the basis of that, he said.
Quoting statistics of global internet usage, he said by 2015, around 45 percent of the population would be online with 40 per cent of the traffic coming from Asia. Currently, 57 per cent of the internet traffic is video content with 72 hours of video being uploaded on YouTube every minute. On the India story, he stated that by 2015, according to FICCI, 350 million Indians will be using the internet. This population will comprise of people from Sec A, B and higher C who normally buy villas, apartments and houses, he said.
He added, "According to a survey done by Google, real estate queries are increasing 40 per cent year on year. Of this, around 30 per cent queries come from mobiles. So who is looking for you? Every month, more than six million unique users search for real estate online. So if you (marketers) are not there then he will look for someone else. These are serious real estate buyers."
On how to reach the digital customers, Bawankule laid out a game plan. He advised marketers to create great websites that they update regularly on daily or weekly basis. He asked them to create awareness about the brand online by placing advertisements of upcoming projects on popular publisher websites.
He explained the reason "Such branding may not have the impact of a full page ad in print, but by being present on other websites a brand is visible. It is imperative to be visible online as a person who sees the brands ad in print but doesn't see it online, will ask, ‘Who are you?’"
Thirdly, he urged the marketers to go 'social' and be present on the various social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to give right information to consumers. Further, he asked them to upload high impact videos of the brand on YouTube for maximum push.
Asked what the ideal digital budget should be, Bawnkule explained, "Each medium has a role. If you want to create a mass image, then opt for TV. But for a regional brand, instead of TV, one can go for print for maximum impact. If you want to measure the impact of every (bit of) money spent on advertising and monitor how many people saw the ad, came to the website and bought the property, then digital is the best medium."