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The Placester Play is…Marketing Plays

As I’ve said before, selling $10 agent websites isn’t a business that’s going to make much money, and certainly  not generate a 10x return for investors.

I just took a look at Placester’s site again (after reading Greg’s post), and saw the “marketing solutions” section highlighting Marketing Plays:


Paid lead/traffic acquisition; a fairly proven way to make money.

Seems Placester is simply the next iteration of Market Leader with modern technology? With Market Leader up for sale, makes sense they would go after their clients now.

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • Is Market Leader for sale? Your link goes back to my site but I never mention anything.

  • So what is going to happen to all the companies that provide websites and IDX solutions once there is a national MLS or Zillow (or whoever is after them) controls all search? I am probably a minority, but I hope to see the local MLS survive – but improve their services to members. Secondly, I would like to see IDX providers bring more to the table – be quicker with updates, more responsive to user suggestions. i simply cannot understand how the programing can be so difficult and time consuming – but the big guys in this business are SOOO SLOW do get things done…..

    • Development always takes longer than you’d think. There are so many edge cases that have to be accounted for (& data cleanup). It often comes down to not enough customers (revenue) to afford to invest the engineering time required to make the product great.

  • Placester Plays–

    Earlier this month, I decided to test out the value of Placesters’ pay per click program, Google Adwords Marketing Play. Having been in the business for 15 years, I’ve used many different marketing programs to generate leads including Google Adwords. My recent experience with Google Adwords, doing my own campaigns, has been reasonably good; but, I realized that my time may be better used if I outsource management of ppc.

    When I discovered Placesters’ pay per click program, it sounded like a great way to free up some time. Of course my budget is limited so I conducted a little due diligence by speaking with the Placester sales department at some length. Casey, the representative I first spoke with was very polite and professional. He told me about the benefits of the program including that, because placer has certified Google Adwords specialists, Placester’s expertise in lead generation could well be beneficial to me.

    I explained that I had been generating leads, using AdWords on my own for a couple of years, at a cost of about $25 per lead (as low as $12 a lead in some cases but rarely more than $30). Although I never received any guarantee of lead production cost, the representative did confirm that their experience suggested the cost per lead should be in a range similar to what I was achieving (around $25 +/- a little). Again – no guarantee was suggested – just a reasonable expectation. I guessed that it was a fair risk to move forward so I signed up for the most basic program to test it out – hoping to take on more the following month. The basic program is $200 a month ppc budget plus a $50/mo management fee (waived month #1).

    So, I estimated that the likely added cost for me, above my current do-it-yourself efforts, should be approximately just adding the $50 month management charge for Placeter’s assistance – sounds fair enough. Because the folks at Placester are “experts” at ppc, I hoped that my cost might even be less than what this do-it-yourself, non-Google Adwords certified novice might do. So, I gave a try.

    I am quite disappointed with the results. I do not recommend Placester for your pay per click campaigns. At least not yet.

    Here is how it progressed after signing up. I received a nice note on June 1 saying the campaign was ready and that … “For the first 30 days, we assign you an Account Manager (in this case, me) to ensure you’re familiar with how this piece works.” Evidently, at this point, the ppc was turned.

    By June 5th, I was getting concerned. I wrote to Placester, ” It looks like I am at $124/lead so far?? That is a bit over the top. …. Ouch.” By June 6th my $200 PPC account was depleted. I did get 2 more leads after my June 5th e-mail.

    The final result was a total of 4 leads at a cost of $200 – $50 a lead – not to great. Now, had I not had the $50 management fee waived for month 1, it would have been $62.50 per lead. That is not a competitive rate today.

    My take is that this must be new territory for Placester. Unfortunately, they experimented with this vocal broker’s ad budget rather than their own to test things out.

    I contacted Placester in an attempt to get a refund. No luck. They were friendly but said that because all funds went directly to Google Adwords, they could not issue a refund – my loss not theirs.

    My advice: do not use Placester for PPC management – at least not until you know they have a firm handle on how to do it. Best wishes!

    Chris DeLoach
    Charleston, SC

    • Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Chris, So sorry to hear that you had a bad experience. My sincere apologies. It seems like we need to do a much better job at communicating how your dollars are spent and clarify the length of time it takes to fully optimize an effective SEM campaign. We don’t actually take a cut of the ad dollars spent on your Adwords campaigns, we allocate 100% of the ad-spend to driving traffic and use the subscription fee to cover the website, CRM, lead management, drip features and the account manager handling the campaigns. I know that we waived the subscription fee for the month you worked with us, the dollars you allocated to Google, went directly to Google, 100%. If you decide to work with us again or with any other Google partner, I usually suggest an advertiser dedicate 120 days or more to the optimization process. As you know there are quite a few factors involved in obtaining an optimal CPL. In any event, thank you so much for reaching out. Please feel free to call my cell at any time 401-351-4663 or email me directly I would love to hear how we can make the experience better for you and the rest of our customers.

  • Thanks for your reply, Seth. I am clear on how it works – no
    ppc FAQ needed. What I expected was some added value from your AdWords certified staff and by removing campaign management from my list of daily to-do chores. What I did not expect was having my ppc campaign mismanaged.

    An effective ppc campaign requires at least a minimum consideration
    of, not only keywords and the geo target areas (which were considered), but
    also a review of landing page design and relevance and the design and function of lead capture forms on those landing pages. Plus, some attention absolutely must be given to bid strategy – including daily max, and consideration of key words bid so as to not dump the budget on the few most popular key words. Just hitting the “on” switch does not work with this type of advertising. It is certainly not a good sign when a monthly budget is consumed in under a week, suggesting a very poor initial set up and a lack of management discipline.

    When you suggest that an advertiser needs 120 days to optimize, perhaps you are confusing Adwords with driving organic traffic. I contend that any experienced ppc user can optimize much faster – in a matter of a few days. But, someone has to do that. I do not believe that optimization is offered in the basic plan. Some adjustment needs to be done to ensure reasonable optimization, for any plan, during the first week.

    I have to wonder whether offering a passively managed or non-managed product of the ppc sort, is even a good idea. It is common knowledge in the AdWords world that effective ppc requires some degree of monitoring along the way. With monitoring and adjustment, results should improve over time, as you suggested. But, will Placester be doing that or is that on me? If Placester is simply acting as an intermediary for my payment to Google (and adding a fee to do so), where is the value added? I am not sure I get it.

    Placester simply did not do a good job managing the ppc funds I provided to them. I will not recommend Placester’s ppc management unless some reasonable cost guarantee is added. Maybe just good intentions are not sufficient. There needs to be accountability to motivate good ppc practices. I took a leap of faith without a guarantee, (but I did have a non-binding assurance of reasonable results) so shame on me for that. Next time, I will do more due diligence.

    Again, thank you for your response. Best wishes.

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