Is Zillow™ your advertising ally or enemy?

Zillow™ is a great company…for its shareholders. Keeping Realtors and lenders’ best interests at heart is secondary to dividends & …

Zillow™ is a great company…for its shareholders.

Keeping Realtors and lenders’ best interests at heart is secondary to dividends & share price value. (If you don’t believe me than listen to the last two earnings calls)

I first want to say, I have no ill will for Zillow™. As an entrepreneur, I marvel at what they have done…

How they can convince thousands of Realtors and lenders to pay rent for a parcel of their online property is no small feat.

Will this “old internet” pay per lead model that worked 10 years ago exist in the next decade?

The short answer…No…and Zillow™ already knows that.

They are moving from an advertising-based business model to algorithm-based home-flipping. Their executives knew this day would come for years.

Zillow™ has also started to ramp up mortgage operations, Zillow Mortgage™, to fuel it’s iBuyer platform, Zillow Offers™.

Which option on Zillow’s site would you be drawn to?


“Home shoppers who visit Zillow™ to shop for a mortgage can now get financing directly from Zillow Home Loans™.”

This transition would never happen without the support of their Realtor and lender partners who pay upwards of $5,000 a month for certain zip codes and $90+ for an exclusive lender lead.

Zillow is paying big bucks to send ads to everyone who lands on their seller page. This ad has followed me for 6 months. Not once have a seen an ad for a premier agent.


In this short article, I will explain the top reasons why you need to take back control of your marketing budget and start to diversify in 2020.

Did you catch that?…unlike every other digital marketer I did not say: “Stop using Zillow™!”

If you are making a nice profit margin on Zillow™, then keep doing it.

Prior to shifting into ad tech, I was a money manager.

I look at a marketing budget like an investment. You MUST diversify.

Most lenders and agents are unaware of the potential huge upside of investing in building their own online customer acquisition system.

Therefore, I am going to make the case for why you need more options, then I will talk about the solutions.

Lead & Traffic Cherrypicking. Zillow™ is buying and selling houses. If a strong seller, buyer or lender lead fills out a form on their site that fits their profile; how do you know they are not keeping that lead for themselves? After visiting the site for the past 6 months I have seen a barrage of ads and emails promoting their new iBuyer platform. While the business model transition is taking place you, as an advertiser, are paying high prices to essentially market Zillow’s new platform. I personally do not see why that would make sense, considering that this new platform will seek to eliminate your role as a realtor or lender.

High Lead Cost. Zillow™ leads often convert higher than the national average (which is an abysmally low – sub 3%), but you end up paying for it. On average a Zillow™ mortgage, long-form lead can cost upwards of $90+ per inquiry. I immediately see a glaringly obvious problem. Will this person every qualify for a loan? NO idea…these leads are all self-reported credit ratings. Add in the opportunity cost lost chasing down bad leads and it really starts to add up. Almost every single high-value area code has already been gobbled up by deep-pocketed competition who have the money to burn.

Zillow™ does not scale. Most Zillow™ markets are over-saturated and overpriced. Zillow controls the flow of leads and uses primarily organic methods to generate leads which are limited to the amount of new daily site visitors. You cannot flip a switch and 10X your output without paying dearly for it. Zillow is the sole dictator in deciding how many leads you will be alotted.

Speed to Lead As with all online lead vendors you never really know when that lead was processed. Did they send it in real-time? Sure they say the leads come in quickly, but they are not legally bound to a specific time period. As you have probably heard before…The Fortune is in the Follow Up.

  • If you contact a lead within 5 minutes you have a 500% better chance of converting them to a customer/sale – MIT Study.
  • 71% of buyers & 72% of sellers do business with the first person they speak with. – Zillow™

No Branding Power – Zillow™ markets for Zillow™. They use some of the same advertising methods that you have access to right now. They know that if they advertise on Facebook they will generate new leads, but also understand that they are getting the secondary benefit of branding. Over time this branding power will start to generate traffic and leads for FREE. Let’s say you run an advertisement for new home buyers for 12 months on Facebook and spend $30 a day. On average that is 365,000 impressions of YOUR brand being shown to your local market every year. Over time more and more people will see & SHARE your Facebook ad with their friends and family. If done correctly social sharing will produce FREE leads every day. These are the same FREE leads Zillow produces and then charges you for.

The Contact Form Lead Roulette – Why is David better than Bob?


You Don’t Own the Data The most profitable part of online advertising is being able to cookie and track potential leads across multiple online patterns. Zillow™ owns all of this buyer data and leverages it to perfection. 99.9% of DIY online advertisers have zero understanding of how powerful this data is so let me break it down in simple terms.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google have the largest databases of consumer data in the world that YOU can tap into (for a minimal cost). Once you place this tracking code on your site (correctly), then you will start to tell these networks who your BEST customers are. This tracking code (pixel) data is owned by YOU. The more data it tracks, the more powerful and cost-effective your ads will become. So while Zillow™ generates 20+ million leads a year, you can tap into Facebook billion person network and train the algorithm on how to find your best customer for as little as $10 a day.

RESPA Compliant? As you are probably well aware, RESPA auditors are cracking down on shared lead sources. Some legal experts interpret Zillow™ advertising as walking a fine line with compliance.

So what is the alternative solution?

In short. Build your own Zillow™.

In the past, it would take a huge team, access to enterprise tech, and deep pockets to build a data and tech-driven marketing machine.

Now you can launch in minutes. How?

Meet Arlo.

Arlo completely rethinks everything about online customer acquisition. Re-imagined for the modern age, it transforms the way you attract, pre-qualify and communicate with new prospects.

Arlo delivers the on-demand experience borrowers expect, on the channels they prefer.
Forget chasing bad prospects, overpaying marketers, or sharing marked up leads with competitors…Hire Arlo.

Arlo will set up proven ad campaigns, uncover the most profitable market segments, pull credit, pre-qualify and manage all your follow up, 24/7/365, so you can focus on building relationships, closing more deals and expansion.

Compare Arlo to Zillow™:


Lower Cost. Higher Quality – We have been producing leads on Facebook and Instagram since the platforms went live. There is no other open advertising platform that produces lower priced leads that convert. Arlo requires zero technical knowledge. Just connect your Facebook page and let Arlo deploy, optimize, and scale your ad campaigns to generate 100% exclusive leads.

Credit Qualified – Arlo then will credit-qualify each lead with a FICO and full credit report in realtime, with just their name and current address.

Automated Follow-Up – Arlo will follow up with credit qualified leads across text, Facebook Messenger, email and voicemail drops until they book a call. We are automating everything from Lead to Loan.

Your Page. Your Data – Every ad placed by Arlo is through your page so you get the benefit of increased exposure. One customer just this week generated 14 FREE credit-qualfied leads JUST from people sharing his ad post on Facebook. We have developed a method that will train your Facebook pixel on how to target the BEST possible prospects in your market quickly, while you still maintain 100% ownership.

Compliance Ready – We provide full customization so that you can ensure every ad and page is fully compliant under your companies guidelines. These best practices have been adopted by working with some of the largest lenders’ legal teams. Since you are generating these leads yourself, using Arlo, then you have full control over what is seen by the public helping defend against any arbitrary complaints.

Our goal is for Arlo to become every MLOs and Realtor’s most valuable digital partner, and we are doing everything we can to help you maximize advertising ROI….Can you say that about Zillow™ or your current lead vendors?

Get access to big data and enterprise tech starting at $195 a month.




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