The Best Alternative to Zillow Advertising and Why You Need it

RealDigiAds helping a realtor to utilize our simple Google Ads platform as the best alternative to zillow advertising

In the current digital landscape, realtors typically seek help from one of the two distinct mediums for their real estate advertising: Zillow advertising or Google Ads. 

Some realtors prefer advertising on platforms like Zillow because they are solely dedicated to the real estate industry. The leading belief is that because it exclusively operates in real estate, advertising on Zillow can effectively help realtors get in front of people who’re almost ready to seal the deal. 

But today, RealDigiAds is going to debunk that myth. Continue reading ahead to learn why it is crucial for realtors to start looking for a Zillow advertising alternative for lead generation. 

Troubles with Zillow advertising: why Zillow realtor advertising is a thing of the past for lead generation 

What was once a powerful resource for real estate agents and marketers is not quite as beneficial or effective in certain core areas as some realtors may believe – especially when it comes to marketing and lead generation. 

Below are some reasons why you need to start looking for an alternative to Zillow advertising: 

Zillow can manipulate information for personal gains

Not many people know this, but Zillow has massively grown its business with the help of search engines like Google. Unfortunately, they have used the attention they have gained to convince realtors that they “hold the keys to the castle,” and the place to be for realtor success is on their platform. This story has lived on long enough to become a theme where most realtors advertise on Zillow because their competition advertises on Zillow. Not because that’s where realtors have the most success getting quality leads.

Now that Zillow has officially become a brokerage and entered into the housing market with direct-to-consumer offers, realtors not working for Zillow will become an afterthought and likely only be given scraps from their table. In other words, this will result in even lower quality leads for realtors that use Zillow advertising.

Moreover, suppose a lead from Zillow is unresponsive initially, which they often are. In that case, Zillow has the option to send that same lead to multiple advertisers, thus making money on the same lead over and over again. Realtors are left to figure this out on their own as they will not find this information in their contracts, training documents, onboarding manuals, or from sales representatives. We can only hope they do before being locked into a contract because there is no going back once that happens.

Zillow provides general leads

The real problem with Zillow advertising is it does not produce the right leads. Zillow ads do not capture the “bottom of the funnel” leads because they are intrinsically not designed to do that. More often than not, the “leads” realtors get from Zillow advertising are people who think they are calling either a Zillow employee or the listing agent. They are often already being represented by a realtor and are simply calling for information on a property, not because they have any interest or real intent in hiring a buyer’s agent. 

However, somebody on Google can be at the bottom of the funnel as they would not be doing the specific search in the first place if they were not actually interested in buying a property. It is crucial to understand that Zillow searches are way more general in nature. In contrast, searches on Google are more precise and definite — allowing realtors to spend less money for better quality leads. 

Zillow ads are expensive 

Zillow bases advertising costs on how expensive homes are in the zip code being targeted. Thus if you are looking to target an expensive market or one wanted by many realtors, you’ll pay more for your leads. The platform itself estimates that the price per lead can range from $20 to $60, but it’s not simple to figure out how much you’ll pay. 

On the other hand, you can pay as little as $10 a day when adopting a more forward-thinking approach through Google Ads with the help of RealDigiAds. Even if you somehow manage to pay the least amount for leads through Zillow advertising, you can still save money, plus get more leads using Google Ads when working with RealDigiAds. Why waste hundreds of dollars to talk to leads with absolutely no intention of ever using your services when you can reach people with actual intent for a fraction of the cost.

Google Ads through RealDigiAds is a better alternative to Zillow advertising

We strongly believe that the best place for realtors to advertise is where home sellers and buyers begin their search: Google. The best way to do that is with RealDigiAds pre-configured campaigns that were created for realtor success.

Here are some leading reasons why we believe Google Ads through RealDigiAds is a better alternate to Zillow advertising: 

Efficiently targets lucrative leads

Google Ads through RealDigiAds allows realtors to effectively target and qualify leads from their audiences by bidding on specific terms that drive quality leads.

Fosters business-client relationship

Google Ads gives Realtors a chance to establish a relationship with the customer instead of Zillow owning the relationship. 

Creates awareness

It builds awareness of your personal brand without having to compete with other realtors for attention on the same listing page.

Reliable marketing system

Gives you the freedom to create a reliable marketing system rather than being dependent upon the changes others may decide to make for you.

Accommodating to limited budgets

There are no limitations when marketing with a limited budget; you can use whatever budget you are comfortable with to target the right people effectively.

Better at targeting the right leads

More importantly, the market on Google is better at targeting the right leads because it is the number one source of all online queries, even those for real estate and Zillow. Plus, when appropriately configured, Google Ads campaigns are much better at targeting the right audiences.

Five reasons why Realtors’ should not use Zillow

In our opinion, there are several reasons why Realtors’ should not use  Zillow advertising. Let us explain.

1. Zillow can be highly competitive

Due to Zillow’s popularity, its advertising can be highly competitive for real estate agents. For example, for a specific area, or zip code, many agents compete for attention on a single listing. Think of it like fishing – the more people there are fishing at a lake, the lesser chances you have of catching a fish.  

2. Zillow unfairly discredits Realtors

When realtors propose a home’s value as less than Zillow’s estimates, also called “Zestimates,” which are routinely inaccurate, sellers often question realtors’ market knowledge due to Zillow’s massive brand, which is all thanks to Realtors’ advertising and listings to begin with. This often forces Realtors to list homes for more than they are worth because customers insist on holding to the Zestimate price. This misinformation causes distress and hurts sellers every day.

3. Zillow is now competing with Realtors

Lastly and most importantly, Zillow is now in the housing market with direct-to-consumer offers and acting as a brokerage. This means that real estate agents will no longer be a priority and will only receive Zillow’s leftovers, i.e., poor quality leads. 

4. Challenging to get a return

As explained earlier, the upfront costs of advertising on Zillow can be extremely high if you want to effectively advertise and capture visitors’ attention in high-demand zip codes. Thus, if you opt for low-budget advertising, it is highly unlikely that you get any quality leads or a real return on ad spend. 

5. Bad low-budget advertising

Zillow advertising is not beneficial if you are a Premier Agent with a limited or low budget. That is because of how Zillow takes competition into account in any given zip code. Let us explain this through a simple scenario.

Let’s say you and three other Premier Agents decide to use Zillow advertising in the zip code 90209 with a budget of $100 each. The Zillow showcase advertising page will display all three of you in zip code 90209 because there is space for exactly three agents.

This means all three Premier Agents, including you, get 100% (of 300% total) exposure in zip code 90209. If, however, one of you decides to increase your budget to 4 times the original, things start to change quickly and drastically.

By increasing one realtor’s budget to $400, that realtor will now get 200% exposure in the zip code 90209 and drive down the other two realtors’ exposure to 50 percent. The combined exposure is still 300%, but two-thirds (200%) of it is going to one realtor while the others are splitting one-third (50% each).

If you maintained your budget of $100 for the original 100% exposure, your exposure would be cut in half at the same price. Not only is your competing Premier Agent (who increased their budget) getting more exposure than you, they have effectively undercut the exposure from your budget by half.

This is one of the core reasons why low-budget Zillow advertising is awful for Premier Agents. Even though you can access other Premier Agents’ spending, you are at a significant disadvantage unless you are prepared to overspend and dominate the Zillow advertising in any given zip code.

Google Ads: the better lead generator for Realtors 

When you’re looking to find answers to a question or learn more about something, where do you usually go? That’s right, Google. You might search for “best [whatever service you’re looking for] in [your area]” or something similar. If you appear for searches related to those that indicate someone looking to purchase a home or work with a realtor, you can usually get a high amount of leads, and if handled right, conversions. 

In our experience, Google can provide realtors with an almost indefinite number of leads (yes, there is a possibility for saturation, for instance, in some rural areas.) But even then, the traffic generated through Google is far superior to Zillow. In fact, most prospects will begin their real estate search on Google. In 2018, a study found that 78% of real estate searches start with a search engine, and Google accounts for about 75% of search engine traffic online. Those numbers are enormous — in essence, you know that at least 6 out of every 10 prospects are going to Google for their real estate search. Now that was three years ago; imagine how much this has grown since then. 

It’s also important to note that Zillow derives most of its traffic from Google, not the other way around. In a feeble attempt to help you understand this easily and resolve the Zillow/Google Ads debate once and for all, here is an analogy for you: 

Questioning which is better out of the two – Zillow advertising and Google Ads – is like asking what is better to wear: the jeans I have in my right hand or the fabric to make jeans in my left. 

Apparently, on the surface, both things appear to be the same, i.e., jeans. But when you look closer, you realize that one requires drastically more work for you to wear as you will have to design and sow according to your style and size. In contrast, the other option is all ready to be worn.

Though the ready-to-be-worn jeans seem like a good, easy option, you can’t be sure if they will fit. You also don’t know how well they were made and if they will flatter your body type. In the end, the better option is the jean material that you can make to your liking.

In this analogy, you can consider Zillow advertising as the ready-to-be-worn jeans and Google Ads as the jean material. So, Zillow being the retailer purchases their jeans from Google and sells it to you. In contrast, Google can sell you jean material directly on wholesale. If you don’t know how to sow or style jeans, this might sound intimidating. That’s where RealDigiAds comes in; RealDigiAds provides you with an easy way to make custom “jeans” (ads) in 10 minutes or less. 

We hope the analogy clears some of the ambiguity related to advertising on Zillow and Google Ads. Keep in mind that to produce high-quality leads for your real estate business, you need to create effective campaigns. The best way to do that with little to no knowledge of Google Ads is with RealDigiAds.

Final verdict

Just like direct mail, realtor advertisements you come across on platforms like Zillow and only seem like the most effective marketing mediums in theory.

A G2 study revealed that while evaluating these two mediums, the majority found Zillow ads easier to set up, use, and administer. Yet, overall the majority of participants preferred using Google Ads to generate leads. They believed that Google met their business needs better than Zillow. In addition to this, the leading cause of Google Ads being superior and more lucrative for real estate marketing has to do with one simple-yet-indispensable concept: return on investment.

According to a recent study, for every $1 a company spends on Google Ads, they can anticipate earning around $2 in return, therefore doubling their investment. Moreover, the same study revealed that paid search could help realtors boost brand awareness in some cases by as much as 80%! Therefore, increasing the chance of your brand being discovered, remembered, and interacted with by prospects in a positive way.  

Lastly, the most important thing for you to understand about Google Ads is that every dollar you spend on a real estate campaign needs to work for you, not against you. Even a massive marketing budget won’t produce the results you are seeking if you spend it on campaigns not structured for success. 

RealDigiAds: Google Ads made easy for Realtors 

As a dedicated SaaS company created for Realtors, RealDigiAds offers you an easy way to market your brand and listings to buyers and sellers on Google. Use our platform to create a new campaign in minutes, promote listings on Google, and impress sellers with better results. Build your brand by advertising in the cities/communities where you do the most business, find new buyers, and win more listings. Let us help you transform your business and finally receive a return on investment from your marketing efforts. 

To find out more about how you can leverage Google Ads’ full potential with RealDigiAds or for more insights on real estate marketing, feel free to reach out to us and get the answers you have been looking for.


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