For me vertical search is becoming an increasingly important part of the mix as the web gets bigger and more multimedia. One search box doesn’t give enough information any more. Google is carving the problem into horizontal slices – traditional search, image search, news search etc.
The other approach is verticals – of which property is probably the most developed.
We have already had one generation of successful property vertical search sites – of which RightMove has emerged as the biggest and best.
I think the second generation cometh.
It was interesting yesterday to see that Hugo Burge‘s HOWZAT Media have invested in Zoomf. I think they are in an exciting position because to my mind RightMove is vulnerable. There are a couple of key reasons for that:
- Estate agents are starting to get tired of paying RightMove to be listed. There was 7% churn last year and that could go higher if someone really comes to challenge RightMove.
- The second generation players have much better sites – adding Google maps, local information and social features makes for a much better user experience
Just like the first time round this will be a winner takes all game. Scale of property coverage, consumer brand recognition and favourable organic search rankings all favour the leader. RightMove (or one of the other first generation players) could adapt and win too. Overhauling their website and reducing estate agent charges whilst finding other ways to monetise traffic is definitely possible for those guys. Not many companies have the vision and strength of conviction to change their business model like that though.