Google Ads for Real Estate
Much of the real estate industry has gone all-in on Facebook. This has happened for several reasons. However, Google Ads offer even more powerful tools for real estate agents, no matter what their goals are.
Google Ads for real estate have been given a bad name over the past decade. With higher costs and lack of visual options, many Realtors and real estate agents have abandoned the platform entirely. However, Google Ads offer plenty of tools that real estate agents can use to gain more listings and leads.
The bedrock of Google Ads are search network ads. The benefits of search ads are already known by most, but in the real estate industry, they are even more pronounced for several reasons.
The real estate industry is dominated by two major websites: Zillow and Realtor.com. Talk to any Realtor, and they will describe these as “necessary evils” in their industry. Zillow in particular has been the best and worst thing that has happened to the real estate industry in the last decade or so.
Zillow might be the best thing for consumers. Information that was previously only available to real estate agents through their MLS is now available to the public on Zillow. Consumers can search for houses, check past sales in their neighborhood, and even look at a “Zestimate”, which is a home value calculated by Zillow.
The arguments by Realtors about Zillow are compelling to those that understand the ins and outs of the industry, but fall on deaf ears when it comes to consumers. Mainly because Zillow offers a much more low-pressure approach to real estate marketing than the traditional Realtor does. As Zillow is a third party, consumers trust that Zillow doesn’t have a dog in the fight of them listing or buying a house. And they are right.
The Zestimate can be terribly inaccurate, especially on newer homes, custom homes, or homes in remote areas. However, when you live in a 20 year old subdivision with plenty of turnover, Zillow is remarkably accurate. The only major differences are if your house has significant upgrades done to it. At that point, a Realtor is more qualified to price your home.
However, Zillow poses a problem for real estate agents beyond the trust consumers place in it. Zillow, because it is a self-contained platform, can more easily contact consumers quickly, at the exact moment they are actively searching homes and sales data.
So how do individual agents or brokerages compete with that?
Search ads are the best way to do this. Because the search intent is to find real estate information, browse homes, or get a valuation, the intent level is higher than social media ads (more on that below). Also, you can beat Zillow to the punch by grabbing a consumer before they land on Zillow.com. Using the right keywords and targeting can help you find highly motivated buyers and sellers at the height of their interest, increasing your chances of conversion.
Are Google Ads for Real Estate Better Than Facebook Ads?
Another issue Google has faced over the past decade has been the rise in popularity of Facebook ads. Facebook offered (and still offers) dynamic ad formats with more visual components, which immediately increase the “wow” factor. This is something Google did not offer for many years.
When Google launched the display network, it was seen as revolutionary in terms of online advertising. However, it was quickly eclipsed by Facebook ads, as Facebook offered a quicker turnaround time for ad launching and a much simpler interface.
In addition, Facebook was inexpensive. You could acquire Facebook leads for pennies, as opposed to Google’s much higher costs. So, has this changed?
The cost disparity has started to level out, mainly due to the sheer volume of Facebook ads being run by real estate agents. It is still best practice to promote a listing via Facebook rather than Google (for now).
The visual display options have become much more attractive on Google, with the inclusion of YouTube and more dynamic display ads being available.
There is no real “better” when it comes to ads. However, if you look at the graph below, you can see that paid search ads do have lower bounce rates than social media ads.
Google Owns YouTube. Remember That.
If you want to maximize your exposure and get eyes on listings, YouTube is a fantastic way to harness the power of Google and reach consumers. Effective video marketing is fast becoming an essential part of success in real estate, and almost all industry leaders are now capitalizing on YouTube.
YouTube ads are significantly less expensive to run than even Facebook ads. Success has been seen in running YouTube ads with links pushing consumers to a dynamic IDX with custom searches, such as those that are built with Chime. Having a platform that enables lead capture is a great way to bolster your Google Ads.
YouTube solves the biggest handicap Google Ads had in the real estate vertical, namely, the ability to produce powerful, visually stunning ads.
Direct MLS & IDX Feeds
One new feature Google has instituted in their ads platform that will make real estate agents happy are direct MLS & IDX feeds. Much like Google Shopping Ads, you can now upload a direct feed into your ads account, and there will be a display category shown when consumers search for real estate in their area.
These ads can be directly linked back to your website, and in addition, the ads will remarket to the consumer with similar homes, all through a well-constructed feed. This is a powerful ad format that has helped agents all over the country earn millions in commissions.
A direct feed is not always easy to set up, and should always be handled by a certified Google Ads provider. One that has the special shopping ad certification would be best, as these ads are very similar in structure and performance.