Zoopla prepared to fight for its place amid growing challenge from OnTheMarket

on Apr 8, 2015

At the beginning of the year, a new property portal was introduced to the online UK housing market that aimed at challenging the dominance of frontrunners Rightmove and Zoopla. OnTheMarket (OTM) was set up by Agents Mutual, whose members were losing increasing levels of business to online property portals. What may have initially seemed like somewhat of a tall order may be coming to pass as OTM has made significant inroads towards establishing itself as a serious contender in the online property business, having taken 11 percent of Zooplas market share in its first week of trading.

Zoopla founder, Alex Chesterman now has a battle on his hands in order to keep OnTheMarket from replacing his company as the second largest online property portal in the UK. While Zoopla claims that “dozens” of the estate agency advertisers that originally left have now returned to the company, there is no denying that OTM has had a significant impact on the UK property market.
Chesterman is exceptionally positive when it comes to Zoopla though, remarking that OTM is “the wrong type of competition” for his company. “Digital marketing has changed the property landscape for ever, as it has changed many industries. This small group [of agents] would like to return to the way things were and pretend this little thing called the internet never happened”, he said.
And while potential property investors may find the Zoopla platform encouragingly extensive, many agents have objected to the dominance that both it and Rightmove currently enjoy, objections which are exacerbated by the hefty fees both sites charge.
However, Chesterman states that online portals are a lot more cost-effective for agents in comparison to newspaper advertisements. When it comes to Zoopla, agents pay an average fee of £10 per month for a listing, while a single-page ad in a newspaper can set an agency back thousands of pounds.
Zoopla was launched back in 2008 and several years and mergers later, the company has climbed the rankings to see annual revenues of £80 million in the year to end September. However, some outside observers of the business have suggested that Chesterman would have been better off selling his remaining 4.2 percent share of Zoopla before now, in order to avoid the threat of incoming businesses such as OTM. However, he claims that selling up is not on his mind for the moment. His attention is fully directed towards retaining Zoopla’s position in the market.
Currently, Zoopla’s online traffic amounts to 50 million page visits per month, while Rightmove averages about 90 million.

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