Following our story on how real estate portal 99Acres is changing with changes the competitive environment, Magicbricks Head Sudhir Pai responded to its competitors claims of being the leader in the online real estate market, trying to, “set record straight”, saying that 99 Acres has made claims that “simply aren’t true”.

Citing Comscore, and MagicBricks has shared data which indicates the following:

– Monthly visits: Magicbricks is number 1, 99 Acres is number 2
– Average Daily visitors: Magicbricks is number 1, 99Acres is number 3
– Visits per visitor: Magicbricks is number 1, 99 Acres is number 2
– Total Minutes: 99Acres is number 1, Magicbricks is number 2
– Unique visitors: 99Acres is number 2, Magicbricks is number 3, while Commonfloor leads.

Points that MagicBricks has made:

– Total visits matter more than unique visitors, because it’s easier to buy UVs by spending on Search Engine Marketing and getting people to visit one time (even people who aren’t looking for a home). “For the last 6 months, we’ve reduced our SEM/paid traffic. That’s why despite 99Acres and Magicbricks having similar numbers of visitors, Magicbricks gets significantly more visits and leads the category by a comfortable margin.”

– Repeat visits and engagement with the user matter more, and “true leadership comes not just by getting users to come to the site once”.
– In the last 6 months, 99Acres has passed Magicbricks in terms of total minutes, but Magicbricks contends that “if we’re doing our job well, it should take people less time to find what they are looking for. “In the last year, we’ve tried to reduce the number of clicks/pages (and the amount of time) it takes for people to reach the result they are looking for.”
– Visits per visitor are an indication of user satisfaction: “If a user is satisfied, he’s likely to visit more often. It’s also the metric that’s least susceptible to ‘buying traffic’, since you can buy the first visit, but it’s much harder to buy the subsequent ones.”

There’s a bit of a sly jab at 99Acres as well, saying that “The bigger point, though, is that if you want to have an informed opinion on what actually is happening, we should encourage the usage of primary, objective data, rather than statements that are hard to substantiate,” though it has also pointed out that it believes that its own numbers of Comscore are underreported (is there anyone who doesn’t?).

99Acres: It’s About Traffic Share

In an emailed response to MediaNama, 99Acres has put it down to interpretation of data: that they’re basing their performance on “traffic share”, and that there is no industry standard to define traffic share.

– Total pageviews are a superior metric because they capture visitors, visits, pageviews per visit in one metric, and total pageviews as a measure is superior to unique visitors, because this gets nullified with total pageviews.

– UV’s can be bought for Re 1 per UV, and 2 million UV’s, which is what it takes to be No 1 in the category, can be bought for Rs 20 lakhs a month.

– Comscore underreports 99Acres traffic, and Similar web is closer to its actual traffic. They use traffic share, which is:

Traffic share = (Total UV’s *Avg. pages / visitor)/sum of the above for the mentioned real estate portals

– 99Acres’s calculations according to Comscore:

– It’s about revenues: given that 99Acres’ parent company Info Edge is a listed company, and 99Acres can showcase data where perhaps Magicbricks won’t want to, as a private company, 99Acres says that it measures the health of its business on the basis of revenue.

 Our Take

Revenue is the correct metric for comparing marketshare, and for the longest time, Info Edge used to refer to traffic share as metric share, before we asked the company to explain how it is equating trafficshare with  marketshare. As we had written in 2010, following a debate on its earnings conference call:

“Info Edge claims to be number one in Real Estate, with 40-41% marketshare, and competitors in the mid-30% range, according to Comscore. Note that MediaNama does not agree with this claim. Share of website traffic does not correspond to marketshare (revenue). We also do not believe that Comscore is an accurate indicator of traffic on a website in India, and their survey methodology has not been explicitly specified. Therefore, we would advise our readers to be skeptical about InfoEdge’s claims of marketshare on the basis of Comscore traffic data.”

That view still holds. Maybe this is a good time for Magic Bricks to tell us how it has performed, in revenue terms.

*

99Acres’ Response

Dear all.

We are a public company.

As a part of our quarterly results reporting process we give out certain financial and operating metrics every quarter to analysts.

We are often asked on every analyst call about our traffic share in the various verticals (Naukri, 99acres, Jeevansathi, Shiksha) we operate in.

The truth is there is no industry standard to define traffic share.

There are many ways to measure traffic – UVs, TimeSpent, PageViews and so on.

There are many independent tools available to measure traffic and compare it across sites – comscore, similarweb and Alexa to name a few.

Of these the basic similarweb tool is now free and available to everyone while both Alexa and Comscore are paid.

It is also true that our own data is often at great variance with what these tools report ( they, esp Comscore seem to be underreporting our traffic considerably)

It is also true that there are also many ways to game traffic.

UVs can be bought at Re 1 per UV for example.

So in a business like real estate where 2 million UVs are what it takes to be No 1, all it costs to become No 1 on UVs is Rs 20 lakhs a month.

The truth is that no metric is foolproof for even visits, time spent and page views per visit can be gamed.

We have for several years believed that genuine UVs are one way to measure traffic share but a superior though not perfect way to measure traffic share is total page views.

Often, bought UVs give you just 1-2 page views per visit while genuine UVs give you a lot more. Total page views capture visitors, visits, page views per visit in one metric.

The benefit of bought UVs gets nullified to an extent if one looks at total page views.

We at 99acres have been measuring this number to track and report traffic share for a while now using Comscore and recently Similarweb which incidentally we find closer to our real numbers.

We calculate traffic share for all our websites. The formula is explained below.

Traffic Share according to comscore.

99acres-traffic-share2

Traffic Share according to Similar web is as follows:

Traffic share = ( Total visits * avg. page views /visit)/sum of the above for 5 real estate portals

99acres-traffic-share

*Data for housing.com is not available

Having said so we don’t really go by these numbers alone when it comes to measuring the health of our business or our competitors.

In addition to traffic share we constantly monitor and report our revenue, the size of our customer base, our renewal rate, the number of paid listings on our site and so on.

Most of our competitors are private and are not required to reveal these numbers.

Here is how we have been faring on these parameters as well of late.

99acres-revenue

99acres-revenue2

 

In the end we believe that the real estate space is large and there is a long way to go.

Less than 10pc of all real estate advertising dollars are spent on the internet.

This number is higher than 50pc for categories like jobs and matrimony.

Traffic shares will fluctuate every now and then when the space sees heightened action.

We are totally committed to and a serious long term player in this space.

Relentless focus on day to day execution to improve the experience on our site for both buyers and sellers is what we like to focus on. This is what we believe ultimately builds long term value.

Regards
Vineet Singh
Business Head-99acres.com