Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Realtor.com updates its mobile and tablet app to add in school district information for home shoppers

If publishers are to get serious about trying to get their classified advertising back they will need to do it through mobile and tablet products. The reason is simple: right now they are competing against simple, non-interactive websites like Craig's List, to win they will need to offer more. The question is who will develop new digital products first, traditional media, the Internet players that dominate the category today, or new digital start-ups?

Realtor.com, owned by Move, Inc., continues to update and improve its digital offerings, probably knowing that to be complacent would be fatal. Last night the company issued an update to its universal home search app, officially called realtor.com real estate - homes for sale and rent.

The update is all about schools: that is, allowing home buyers to see the school districts that they home for sale resides in, thereby increasing the desirability of some homes within school districts with a good reputation, devaluing others. It's something realtors are a little leery about since it is a double edged sword. But some home buyers see it as the determining factor in choosing a new home, so adding the feature in a location aware device app makes perfect sense.

Here is what the app description says about the update and added features:

What's New in Version 4.7.0

We've heard time and again from home buyers that schools really matter when searching for a new home. So with this newest version of the realtor.com app you can search for homes based on their school and district assignment boundaries!

Try out these new features:
+ New button on home screen finds Nearby Schools with just one tap
+ New Schools button on bottom of map toggles school pins for public schools, districts and private schools
+ School pins on map will display ratings and assignment boundaries
+ Search for homes for sale based on their assigned public school or school district!
+ Listing details now include property tax, sales history and more school information
+ Map options for Locate Me, satellite, street, and hybrid views now floating on lower right of map
The key to success for traditional media with classifieds on mobile and tablet devices is geo-location. But most newspaper apps remain strictly news readers.

I think there are two reasons for this: many newspapers are outsourcing their mobile apps to vendors who are basically one-trick ponies, they have a news app to sell the publisher and that is what they will sell them; and in most cases the app development team works exclusively with the editorial department, advertising is brought in at the end, if ever, and told what the new product is, and if there is ad space to sell. Often there is not, as many vendors are discounting or giving away their apps in order to build their own ad networks.