LoopNet To Discontinue It's Most Powerful Real Estate Ad Platform (And You've Probably Never Heard of It).

On August 16th, 2016, LoopNet will be sending out it's very last Hot Properties Bulletin.

If you're a commercial real estate broker, you might be asking yourself "what is a Hot Properties Bulletin?"

As described by Loopnet's website:  "Hot Properties Bulletin
Feature Your Listing in Our Weekly Bulletin - exclusive to Principals
Reach a highly-targeted opt-in LoopNet audience of 400,000+ owners, developers and corporate investors.
Listings receive a dramatic increase in views within 72 hours of distribution.
All subscribers are opted-in."

To augment that ground-breaking copy-writing that Loopnet is known for, here is my two cents on the Hot Properties Bulletin:

It is an extremely effective real estate marketing tool. As far nationwide distribution goes, it is one of the most effective tools I've used. By effective, I mean I've seen it not only produce massive amounts of leads, but I've directly attributed it to some very large transactions. 

(Screenshot of a recent Hot Properties Bulletin.)

Granted, it is also one of the most expensive property marketing tools I've ever used. Listing a single property in the Hot Properties Bulletin ranges from $1,200-1,800 depending on placement (though discounts are/were available if purchased in bulk).

That said, if you have a property for sale that appeals to buyers from all over the country (a large multifamily complex or portfolio, for example), getting it into the inbox of 400,000 active buyers is absolutely worth the money.

This begs the question: If the Hot Properties Bulletin is so effective, why are they discontinuing it?

Here is what I was able to ascertain from a LoopNet Rep this afternoon (who prefers to remain nameless):

  • The Hot Properties Bulletin will be discontinued in August of 2016, Loopnet will now focus more on their Tiered Listings & Local Property Ads.

  • There are no plans to replace the Hot Properties Bulletin with a similar advertising platform at this time.

Unfortunately that is all the legitimate insight that I have. (Warning: Speculation to follow.)

(Example of a Hot Properties Bulletin ad draft.)

If I had to guess at LoopNet's underlying reason for discontinuing the Hot Properties Bulletin, I'd say that they're likely trying to scale back the human element/capital needed for their business. Taking out an ad in the Hot Properties Bulletin is a multi-step process: The sales rep needs to work with you to  find a date that works, potentially haggle with you on price, then the designers send you a draft of the ad, if you request tweaks they'll send another, and so on until you are ready for the bulletin. Meanwhile, the tiered listings & local property advertisements are done almost entirely through an online interface.

It is no secret that LoopNet/Costar employs a large labor force of sales reps & research associates to make sure that they stay number 1 in the property listing & CRE data arenas. If they get caught in a real estate crash with an overabundance of salaries to pay, the CRE tech giant could face hard times when brokerages have to tighten up their annual marketing budgets.

In short: I think LoopNet is shifting their focus from services that benefit their users to ones that produce the most profit with the least human input. While I don't find this admirable, from a business perspective I can't fault their use of the 80/20 rule.

Now you might be wondering: "Why didn't I hear about this advertising platform in time to actually use it?" If you have heard of it and you're using it, kudos! But unfortunately most brokers that I've brought it up to aren't familiar with this particular ad platform. I truly think that if the CRE Tech industry spent half as much time blogging about ways that brokers can use tech to sell properties as they do writing about the top "5 reasons CRE is slow to adopt tech", you probably would have heard about the Hot Properties Bulletin.

Moreover, the Hot Properties Bulletin only goes out to people listed as "principals" on LoopNet. So if you're strictly a broker and not a real estate owner, you don't receive it.

However I think the real culprit is the fact that LoopNet does not effectively market their "enhanced property advertising" platforms. Maybe they're doing so well that they don't need to, or maybe they're just not good at it. Either way, they launched Local Property Ads over a year ago and this blog (which they failed to tweet to their 20,000 followers), is the only promotional piece about it that I've seen. I also don't think a sales rep would have mentioned the Hot Properties Bulletin to me if I hadn't found it on my own and approached them about it.

The last 3 paragraphs are obviously full of speculation. The facts of the matter are the the Hot Properties Bulletin will soon be gone, and I personally will be very sad to see it go.

If you know of any effective alternatives to the Hot Properties Bulletin that can be used for advertising commercial real estate nationwide, please feel free to post them in the comments, and I'll be happy to look into them for a writeup. I do know of a few that I'll be featuring on this blog, but they're admittedly less effective.

My final question is this: Will any of the successful CRE tech startups or LoopNet competitors step in and fill this new gap that LoopNet will leave in the world of real estate advertising? And if they do, will they market it better than LoopNet?