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Housing.com, which has a presence in 85 cities, has already seen a 500% jump in its traffic since the launch of the campaign. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
Housing.com, which has a presence in 85 cities, has already seen a 500% jump in its traffic since the launch of the campaign. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

Housing.com to spend Rs250 cr on ad campaign

The firm is estimated to have spent close to Rs50-80 crore during the first phase, which was scheduled for 8 weeks

Online real estate website Housing.com is expected to spend some 250 crore on advertising and marketing in 2015 to build its brand and grow its business beyond the big cities.

The company is estimated to have spent close to 50-80 crore during the eight-week campaign, which was scheduled to end this week. However, Housing will extend the current leg of the campaign, which means a few more weeks of newspaper jacket ads and a surfeit of billboards in seven cities.

“We are rolling out the second phase of the launch campaign as we expect to increase our brand salience and double the unaided recall," chief marketing officer Pratik Seal said. Mumbai-based Housing.com is run by Locon Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

The company, which has a presence in 85 cities, has already seen a 500% jump in its traffic since the launch of the campaign. “On key campaign days, we saw a 15-20 times jump in the usual traffic," said Seal.

Housing will roll out a follow-up campaign by the end of this week, telling customers how to rent, buy or sell real estate on its platform. It will be an extension of the “Look Up" campaign that Housing started in March, its first marketing initiative introducing the brand to the masses by showing how the basic need for a home is a critical part of an individual’s journey. “Look Up has multiple connotations; it, on the one hand, is a sign of positivity and it also is used for search," said Seal.

Housing, backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group, Falcon Edge Capital and Nexus Venture Partners, will launch its television commercial during the next phase of the campaign for 2015. Seal declined to comment on the money invested on television commercials.

Flush with capital, e-commerce firms are dominating the advertising and marketing space on television, newspapers and outdoor media.

“E-commerce spending on advertising has gone up dramatically compared with what they were in 2013. These companies are currently flush with capital and are spending aggressively. We will continue to see the trend in 2015," said Mallikarjun Das, chief executive at Starcom MediaVest Group, a media buyer. “However, I am not too sure if this is optimized spending."

In March, Snapdeal.com hired movie star Aamir Khan as its brand ambassador after having spent crores on popular reality show Bigg Boss, where it was the presenting sponsor. Housing competes with Magicbricks, a Times Group company, and 99acres.com run by a Info Edge (India) Ltd, both of which are big spenders on media. Other competitors include Tiger Global-funded CommonFloor.com.

Housing received $90 million, largely from SoftBank and Falcon Edge in December last year.

The company will roll out its campaign in four phases with the second phase expected to start in May. “In the first phase we are just introducing the brand and the second phase will talk about the product and how the brand can play a role in a consumer’s life," said Seal. The duration of each phase is expected to be eight weeks and the television ads can be expected somewhere in the third or fourth phase.

Housing’s current ad campaign has been equally divided between print, outdoor and digital media. “We initially thought print would be the lead medium with 50% of the overall budget dedicated for it. But within the first week of the campaign, we did a correction as we could see a huge correlation between out-of-home and web traffic," added Seal.

Seal denies the rollback on print media had anything to do with a controversy that surfaced in March resulting in Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd (BCCL) serving a defamation notice to founder Rahul Yadav. Housing no longer advertises with any print publication published by BCCL.

HT Media Ltd, publisher of Mint and Hindustan Times, competes with the products of BCCL in different markets.

Housing is working with Mindshare and Milestone Brandcom as its media buyers. The creatives have been done in-house.

Investors have pumped more than $4 billion into e-commerce companies last year. Online retail is expected to be worth $6 billion this year, a 70% increase over 2014 sales of $3.5 billion, according to technology researcher Gartner Inc.

E-commerce represents less than 4% of the total retail market, according to a Gartner report published in October.

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