This year, Zillow made its most aggressive moves to boost revenue from StreetEasy since acquiring it in 2013. But in the process, StreetEasy might be slipping in an all-important popularity contest.
According to new data from several online audience-measurement tools such as Quantcast and SimilarWeb, traffic to the listings platform’s website and mobile app are down considerably since the spring.
An estimate by SimilarWeb shows that StreetEasy’s total monthly traffic dropped to 3.2 million total visits as of Nov. 30, down almost 45 percent from 5.8 million visits as of June 30.
StreetEasy said the SimilarWeb figures are “completely inaccurate” and are being used “to purposely mislead agents away from one business to another.” The company, owned by Zillow Group, called the analysis a “gross misinterpretation of StreetEasy traffic, which is not only strong but growing year after year.”
But other online tools also showed that StreetEasy’s numbers have taken a hit. According to Quantcast, StreetEasy reached 426,000 people in November, down 12.3 percent from 486,340 people in June. (It should be noted that Quantcast said StreetEasy’s traffic grew a massive 74 percent compared to November 2016.)
And data from Alexa — a company owned by Amazon — showed StreetEasy slid nearly 1,600 spots in its ranking, based on traffic and engagement. Alexa ranked StreetEasy No. 6,234 on Nov. 30, down from No. 4,651 on June 30.
A major caveat with all this is that Zillow doesn’t disclose StreetEasy traffic. The audience-measurement platforms all create their own estimates.
Nationwide, Zillow (and its stable of sites) had 175 million average monthly users during the third quarter of 2017, up 6 percent year-over-year, the company said. During a Nov. 7 earnings call, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff said sales listings in New York City generated almost 13 million visits during the third quarter, making StreetEasy the “brand of choice” for local buyers. Rental listings generated around 14 million visits during the same time, he said.
This summer, the number of listings on StreetEasy’s platform plummeted after it introduced a new daily fee to post rentals.
But StreetEasy said it anticipated the drop, as stale listings expired, and the volume of listings rebounded within a few days. As of Tuesday, StreetEasy had 16,330 rental listings and 11,456 for-sale listings.
As Zillow has sought to monetize StreetEasy through controversial new paid programs such as Premier Broker, Premier Agent and the NYC Rental Network, its competitors have sensed an opening. Rupert Murdoch’s Realtor.com is the most formidable of the pack, with a concerted push into New York, , but there are others. In fact, the SimilarWeb report was circulated in the brokerage community by Leasebreak, a site founded by Phil Horigan that is geared toward short-term rentals.
“You can’t treat your customers this way and expect there to be no major consequences,” Horigan said. “Competitors — including us — will continue to introduce new products and take market share.”