Over the last two years, apartment rental website Apartments.com has retooled its media strategy, moving away from being linear TV dominant to a more diversified approach. This year, the listing site plans to continue to spend on linear TV, albeit at a reduced percentage of its overall media budget, and invest more in streaming video and audio.
The company has found that potential renters spend more time watching content via streaming services as well as listening to podcasts which makes those spaces more attractive, according to Patrick Dodson, vp and head of marketing at Apartments.com. That being said, the company’s core target tends to watch live sports and live events, like various awards shows, so the company is looking to maintain a presence on TV for those occasions.
“If you look at the rental audience, live sports is still huge,” said Dodson. “You still get massive numbers of viewers and you get them in real-time. We always look at renters versus home buyers and renters, apartment dwellers, they tend to over index and live sports, big time, as well as the big shows. We do that to always maintain that upper funnel, top of mind awareness for us.”
In 2019, Apartments.com allocated roughly 70% of its ad budget (minus what it spends on paid search) to linear television; today, the company allocates approximately 40% of its ad budget to linear TV. The company has reallocated its linear TV dollars to streaming, audio and social channels with streaming garnering roughly a third of the brand’s budget, audio nabbing a little less than 10% and social video accounting for approximately 12%. The company also spends on paid social and a few other channels but Dodson didn’t not break out the percentages of those channels or provide exact figures that speak to how much money this investment represents.
Apartments.com’s streaming budget has increased 150% since 2019, per Dodson, who noted that the company’s streaming ads now appear on over 50 VOD platforms including Hulu, Peacock, Tubi, Roku, Twitch, among others. As for audio, the company’s ads continue to appear on Pandora, Spotify, iHeart with Wondery and Studio 71 as new audio partners for 2022.
Per Kantar data, Apartments.com spent $47.9 million on media in 2021, down from $61.3 million in 2020 and a slight increase from 2019 when the company spent $44.7 million on media. Those figures exclude what the company spend on social media channels as Kantar doesn’t track social spending.
Making streaming video more of a priority and reducing spending on linear TV is a logical strategy shift to Duane Brown, founder of performance marketing shop Take Some Risk. “If a lot of their customers are steamers then being there makes tons of sense,” said Brown. “I imagine it’s also cheaper to do and thus get a bigger reach overall than spending everything on TV.”
Brown added: “With Netflix getting ads down the road, if they could buy ads during certain shows and or episodes, that could be very powerful.”
Going forward, Apartments.com will continue to implement a “test and learn” strategy on new channels. “We reserve a portion of our budget for experimentation,” said Dodson. “We are always raising our hand to be first to experiment with these platforms and learn.”