ZPG Group Mid-Year Report 2021
1st September 2021
ZPG’s companies include some of the UK’s most well recognised, trusted and innovative digital brands. These brands, including Zoopla, Uswitch, Money.co.uk, Confused.com, PrimeLocation and SmartNewHomes, aim to empower consumers to make smarter property and household decisions.
Alongside these household names, ZPG is also one of the leading residential property software and data providers with a range of industry-leading products including Hometrack, Alto, Calcasa, Yourkeys and many others.
As the company surpasses the third anniversary of its transition to private ownership, ZPG continues to focus on its goal of providing significant value and an ever-improving experience to customers and consumers. This approach, led by its management team, is in turn supported by Silver Lake and Red Ventures, each of which provides unique expertise in product, technology and marketing. This, combined with ZPG’s long-term strategic thinking, enables the company to make investments and other decisions that might not be possible in a public market context.
Key updates for the two divisions of ZPG (Property and Comparison) over the first six months of the fiscal year ending June 2021 are outlined below.
At the start of 2021, Zoopla unveiled its landmark Vision to customers that seeks to optimise its strategy, empower agents, grow the category and enhance revenue streams. A three to five year plan, the Vision provides a framework against which Zoopla will iterate continually in order to deliver against its goals.
Harnessing Zoopla’s influence as a leading consumer brand, as well as its heritage and scale, the Vision has started the process of transforming Zoopla from more than a portal to an ecosystem of complementary products and services. The Vision aims to keep consumers engaged year after year on a monthly basis, on and off-portal and ultimately sustain momentum in the market. As such, it goes well beyond traditional classifieds search.
In April 2021 Zoopla announced the acquisition of Yourkeys - the multi-award winning property software solution used by housebuilders. The acquisition saw 25 experts, including the CEO Riccardo Iannucci-Dawson, join Zoopla, establishing Yourkeys as a core pillar of Zoopla’s market-leading suite of products and software.
Yourkeys is one of the most exciting companies in proptech and one of the first to take the entire property sales process online. They provide buyer / seller onboarding and sales progression tools for housebuilders to help them sell new homes more efficiently than ever before. This is achieved through their intuitive and real-time reservation-to-completion software platform that integrates into housebuilder CRMs, streamlining processes, and providing transparency for all parties across the new home buying process.
Advances in innovation were, and continue to be, a critical workstream for Zoopla to realise its Vision. In the first half of the year, this was brought to life through the following strategic developments:
In April, Zoopla unveiled an exciting raft of new features, experiences and enhancements to its functionality. The changes aimed to drive better engagement and reiterate why Zoopla should be the first choice for homeowners and movers now, across the property lifecycle, and over a lifetime of property decisions. By creating even greater engagement among consumers it encourages high value audiences to choose and use Zoopla, shifting passive homeowners into active sellers.
At the heart of the changes were an exciting new range of improvements to Zoopla’s website and services that aim to transform the way people find, buy, sell and rent homes. At the core of this was the launch of My Home, a hub for homeowners which provides them with the skills, knowledge and insight to guide them on whether it is time to move and sell.
My Home launched as a central homeowner landing page and then a dynamic page for almost every unique home in the UK. Homeowners can now register and track their home, in order to stay on top of its worth and to follow expertise and connect with relevant agent partners: all to help them understand and feel empowered in their decisions to manage their home (out of market) or sell their home (in-market).
Innovation extended beyond the consumer experience and, in February, Zoopla launched AdReach 2.0 - the next generation digital marketing tool that unlocks leads for housebuilders by identifying relevant homeowners before they’ve even started browsing portals or development websites.
Powered by the latest in predictive data-science technology, it draws on more than 50 individual data points that correspond with any given property in the UK, and monitors trigger points that indicate a household is likely to move before they realise it for themselves. This can be up to 12 months in advance, surfacing relevant development marketing to them when they are using social media channels, such as Facebook.
Brought to market after months of rigorous testing with a Top 5 UK Housebuilder, the proposition has been refined and is already being adopted by some of the largest housebuilders in the UK, who recognise the benefits the tool, which is entirely unique to Zoopla, can provide for their business.
The introduction of In Search ads to customers in June was also a strategic moment in the product development calendar. An innovation to support agents and housebuilders as they seek to capitalise on record demand from buyers, In- Search ads are hosted on Zoopla’s listings search page - its most visited page with over 120 million views per month. Ads are shown in line with listings, delivering a highly attentive audience for customers, while the product also benefits from improved targeting capabilities and an increased inventory, with five ad slots available per page.
Zoopla’s software portfolio received a further boost in the first half of the year, with the release of the ‘Altogether’ video series, designed to provide a new layer of insight and advice to agents.
Comprising five weekly episodes, the series brought Alto customers and industry experts together to discuss the key day to day challenges facing agents and how the software could alleviate these pain points.
The first episode of the series and key takeaway report discussed the topic of starting your own agency with industry experts, something that internal Zoopla research suggested was a hot topic amongst agents, with many taking the plunge to start their own business.
In a company-first, Zoopla unveiled a new logo and branding at the end of April. The biggest changes to Zoopla’s look and feel since its launch in 2007, this reflected a step-change for the company as it strives to become the number one partner for UK estate agents and housebuilders. The new branding incorporated widespread changes including a new logo and even a shift to a different shade of its iconic purple.
In April, Zoopla launched its biggest ever marketing campaign. Designed to support the launch of My Home [see details above], stimulate market activity, and convert passive homeowners into active homesellers, the integrated campaign ran for four months into H2, encompassing brand new creative across TV, out of home and VOD.
The idea that defined the campaign is simple - My Home has the power to change the hearts of even the most attached homeowners. In the TV adverts, Zoopla presented different hypothetical scenarios in which people explained how much they loved their home, only to then see them backtrack when they realised how much they could sell it for. Each advert invited the British public to check out My Home for themselves so they, too, could ‘see if it's time to sell’.
As part of the Super Peak activation, Zoopla unveiled media partnerships with The Guardian and Bauer Media to support the launch of its My Home experience in May.
The partnerships, in collaboration with its media agency Essence, aimed to nudge the 42% of UK homeowners who are considering whether to sell their property into putting their homes on the market
Embracing the Modern Method of Auction
In February, Zoopla’s partnership with iamsold, the award winning property auction company, recorded over £12m of sales via the Modern Method of Auction, delivering almost £80,000 in revenue for agents in just seven months.
Keen for more customers to reap the benefits of Modern Method of Auction transactions and the opportunity to diversify their portfolio of sales, Zoopla offered customers an incentive to encourage more agent partners to embrace the auction model. And it was a simple proposition with no strings attached; sell three properties with iamsold on Zoopla and get 10% off Zoopla fees for the following year.
At the time, Jamie Cooke, Managing Director at iamsold, commented: “The project teams at Zoopla and iamsold have formed strong relationships, as we work towards our shared goal of driving consumer awareness around the benefits of the Modern Method of Auction. We’re already seeing success for our mutual clients and only anticipate this to grow further as we implement our future strategy. A core component of the partnership is focused on our industry-first Best Practice Guide, helping to ensure consumers have a positive and consistent experience of the MMoA and there’s transparency throughout the process.”
Zoopla also revealed in February that over 250 agents had signed up to benefit from its industry-first partnership with Focal Agent.
The partnership, which launched in October 2020, provided Zoopla agents with free access to FocalAgent’s Smart Viewing platform, a market-leading virtual viewing technology. Alongside this, agents could also take advantage of improved marketing capabilities including tailored professional photography.
Amidst the coronavirus lockdown, the partnership established a new level of relevance when social distancing was encouraged and home buyers were reluctant to undertake in-person property viewings. Its virtual viewings capabilities enabled agents to conduct up to eight viewings per hour, saving around 30 minutes per viewing.
Zoopla’s tenacious investment in its proposition and commitment to delivering value to customers culminated in the announcement of the highest number of customers for three years in April, amounting to over 19,500 estate agent customers and new homes developers. In the 12 months leading up to this point, Zoopla recruited an additional 2,500 customers, boosting its overall figures.
Alongside the customer wins, customer renewals were also prolific, with market leading brands such as Connells, Leaders Roman Group and Chancellors extending their long-standing relationships with Zoopla.
With automation regarded as the next generation of technology imperative to the mortgage journey for lenders, brokers and consumers, Hometrack established a new partnership with Moneyhub in June. Integrating Moneyhub’s Open Banking technology into its Credit Risk Hub proposition, on top of its already powerful automated income verification capabilities, has facilitated streamlined mortgage journeys for all stakeholders across the mortgage journey.
This also represented the first time that best-in-class document capture capabilities were brought together with open banking into one lender and broker-focused solution for the purpose of income and expenditure verification for mortgages.
With climate change climbing up the agenda for financial institutions and their regulators, Hometrack began the year with an industry-first partnership with leading climatology specialists Ambiental and Terrafirma. This culminated in the delivery of Hometrack’s Climate Change Risk Assessment product. Bringing together a unique combination of climatology expertise (flooding and ground risk) and Hometrack’s unrivalled valuation and property insight, the product identifies the physical and transitional risk both today and for the future using scenario modelling.
Hybrid Valuer - Calcasa
Calcasa, Hometrack’s sister business and part of Zoopla, located in The Netherlands, also brought to market its own product innovation in the first half of 2021. The Desktop Valuation provides an accurate property valuation without the need for a traditional in-person assessment. Supported by Calcasa’s automated valuation model [AVM] and housing market information, the Desktop Valuation calculates the value of a property based on comparable homes sold, home characteristics, location and market trends. The valuation is then audited by an expert for purposes of accuracy. Each valuation is then delivered in a matter of hours (rather than days) at a significantly reduced cost compared to the traditional physical valuation model.
A rejuvenated approach to marketing
With great ambitions for acceleration and diversification for the second half of the year and beyond, Hometrack revitalised its marketing and communications functions in H1, with the appointment of a dedicated senior marketing manager and a communications lead. Together they will continue to fortify the corporate and brand reputations of Hometrack, establishing them as an integral partner to lenders and brokers at every stage of the consumer mortgage journey.
New global acquisitions
RVU, ZPG’s comparison arm, kick started 2021 by acquiring Penguin Portals from Admiral plc. The global adoption of market leading comparison platforms including Confused.com, Rastreator.com and LeLynx.fr. saw RVU grow by almost 700 employees across the UK, Spain and France, as well as a start-up in Mexico and a development centre in India. The acquisition, which completed in April, has enabled RVU to further strengthen its mission to empower people to make confident decisions.
In the summer, RVU announced it had formally entered into an agreement to acquire Mojo Mortgages, a service which delivers free, personalised mortgage recommendations to over 70,000 customers every month through a hybrid of smart tech and helpful human mortgage experts. The acquisition will enable RVU to go deeper into mortgage intermediation and own the full journey across all customer touch points, from the moment they seek information and advice, to applying and securing a mortgage.
This second acquisition brings a unique fusion of capabilities, combining the growing audience RVU possesses across Money.co.uk, Uswitch and Confused.com with the most advanced digital broker in the UK.
Expert commentary on impactful issues
Uswitch continues to hold its industry leading authority in the UK energy market, ensuring the most relevant advice and guidance is given to consumers facing difficult decisions during challenging times. February saw the energy price cap increase, and expert commentary, broadcast interviews and authoritative content enabled Uswitch to take editorial media reach from competitors and stay high on the news agenda as a valuable source of expertise.
Uswitch also showed its competitors a clean set of heels in the telecoms sector, providing an authoritative voice on issues ranging from supplier increases in mobile roaming charges to delays to home broadband switching when moving home.
Empowering greener choices
In March, Uswitch launched the first of its kind ‘Green Accreditation’ to help tackle the confusion consumers faced when navigating green energy tariffs. The introduction of Gold, Silver and Bronze categories has placed power into the hands of the consumer by providing the insight and knowledge needed to make greener choices.
Money.co.uk continues to support consumers on their financial journey through regular commentary and guidance on key moments in the news. In January, Money.co.uk raised awareness of long-term debt, working closely with charity StepChange to provide concise information to support those entering 2021 with large debts. In March, the personal finance experts helped to dissect the Chancellor’s budget announcement and what its impacts would be on the public’s finances. And finally in May, the team explored the future of cash across the world, revealing which countries are set to go cashless first as finances head towards a completely digital future.
Expanding services to empower customers
In February, Confused.com extended its reach of customers by launching its partnership with TopCashback as the power behind its car insurance comparison platform. This followed from the success of the Quidco partnership, meaning Confused.com is now powering the comparison platforms of the two market-leading cashback sites in the UK.
Confused.com also introduced new features to its app to further improve the journey for customers. This included 'My Policies', a tool which allows users to store all insurance policy details in one place, as well as prompting renewal reminders.
In June, Confused.com grew its Rewards programme to van insurance, with those customers now able to choose a free reward with every purchase.
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For further information, please contact PR Team on [email protected] or +44 (0)20 3873 8770.
Hello. We're Zoopla. A property website and app.
We know you're not just looking for a place to live. You're looking for a home.
Yeah, we've got over a million properties for you to browse.
Tools that let you filter them in all kinds of clever ways.
And reliable house price estimates, so you can be sure you aren't paying over the odds.
But we know you're looking for more than that.
Because that first flat won't just be a 'great investment opportunity'.
It'll be the feeling of starting out on your own.
That extra bedroom won't just mean another £20K on the re-sale price, it'll mean having your sister over to stay.
And that bungalow won't just be a way to release some equity, it will be a chance to spend more time with the grandkids.
We know that searching for a home is about more than just checking its price, location and features (important as all those things are).
What really matters is how it makes you feel.
We know what a home is really worth.
So let us help you find yours.
Zoopla is part of Zoopla Limited which was founded in 2007.
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