How Rightmove’s ‘always on TV’ strategy is driving search volume

The brand’s search volume index almost always sits between 20 and 30 points above the search volume of the property market as a whole.

Property portal Rightmove has identified the four contributing factors towards its high search volume, as the market leader storms ahead of the overall category.

Speaking at the IPA’s EffWorks Global conference today (12 October), head of consumer marketing Sarah Brown said search volume has been an important measure for Rightmove to track – particularly over the pandemic – as it helps the brand’s marketers to understand consumer confidence and the wider desire to move house.

Over the past five years, Rightmove’s search volume index almost always sits between 20 and 30 points above the search volume index of the property market as a whole (see chart below). According to Brown, this not only signals the strength of the brand, but the way it “transcends” the category.

Significantly leading the property market is one of the factors driving Rightmove’s share of search, Brown added. “By leading and transcending our category, we benefit when the category grows, and we benefit when others advertise.”

Rightmove’s “easy to remember” name is another key contributor, on top of the brand’s tagline: ‘Find Your Happy’. The tagline provides the brand with a “meaningful difference” within the wider category, as well as a “constant reminder” to consumers that they would be happier if they were able to live in the right home.

Our real goal was just to keep people warm – we just wanted to remind them that we were here and ready when they were.

Sarah Brown, Rightmove

Finally, Brown credits Rightmove’s “always on TV” strategy. The brand has worked with broadcaster Channel 4 for a number of years to ensure it gets in front of the right audience, with the right programme, as frequently as possible.

“Our focus has been for a number of years on staying top of mind with emotional brand building ads,” Brown says. In fact, the brand has historically engaged in very little short-term activation, as it hasn’t felt the need to.

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However, last year was different, Brown admitted. Lockdown drove down property searches across the entire marketing landscape, including searches for Rightmove.

Like many advertisers, the brand pulled back on media spend in March 2020. “It felt really insensitive at a time of uncertainty and we decided to focus instead on providing reassurance to existing users of all our own channels,” Brown said.

However, after “going dark” for around a month, Rightmove decided to not only go live again with advertising, but to go as heavy as it possibly could.

“We reinvested all the budget we’d set aside and more, and went across a variety of key channels,” Brown said. “This time we didn’t just do brand ads, we went textbook long and short deployment. Our real goal was just to keep people warm – we just wanted to remind them that we were here and ready when they were.”

While searching for property came back strong across the market, branded searches for Rightmove come back stronger than ever, up 19% compared to pre-lockdown levels.

As lockdown eased again this year and brand search strengthened, so did visit intensity. More people were searching for Rightmove and visiting the website than ever before, with March this year seeing a record 8.5 million visits in one day.

“For us this just reiterates the long-term impact of becoming synonymous with your category, and the short-term impact of just deploying the right media mix,” Brown said.

Elsewhere at the EffWorks conference, Vizer Consulting’s James Hankins unveiled a new study for the IPA’s share of search think tank, which revealed that share of search has been found to represent 83% of a brand’s market share.

Mass reach media such as TV has been found to have a greater impact on share of search compared to more targeted channels. When communication is terminated, however, purchase frequency declines, but strong brands are in a better position to bounce back.

Furthermore, when a brand spends more than its market share and increases its share of voice, its share of search increases, although more analysis is needed to understand category and brand dynamics.