The campaign will roll out across print and digital media and comes against the backdrop of commission disruption and intense competition among portals.

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As the big U.S. real estate portals wage war for consumer eyeballs, on Thursday announced a new marketing campaign that frames the firm as a champion of buyers’ agents.

A statement from the company described the effort as a “national multi-tiered integrated marketing campaign” that will unfold across “print, digital and social channels.” The campaign is meant to showcase “an astounding 111 item to-do list that an independent buyer’s agent facilitates during the homebuying transaction.” The statement adds that is also “calling on the industry to support the effort and help spread the word.”

The company did not say what it plans to spend on the marketing campaign, though the statement does note that the effort began Wednesday with full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.

Damian Eales

Additionally, announced the campaign one day after CEO Damian Eales argued, also in The Wall Street Journal, that discouraging the use of buyers agents “would reverse” years of progress in the real estate industry. Eales, an Australian, also compared the U.S. market to his home country, ultimately arguing that the “U.S. model provides lower overall costs and better representation for buyers and sellers alike.”

The effort to pitch as an advocate of buyers’ agents takes place against the backdrop of two significant trends. First, and as Eales’ op-ed indicates, a series of commission lawsuits has recently led to a potentially disruptive proposed settlement involving the National Association of Realtors. The situation has the potential to change the way agents, and particularly buyers’ agents, get paid. It has also generated speculation that many agents may leave the industry, and that some consumers may balk at the idea of paying agents and thus opt to transact without representation.

On top of that, the U.S. Department of Justice has signaled that it wants even bigger changes, including “decoupling” of commissions — meaning buyers would negotiate pay directly with their brokers.

The campaign is thus an attempt to push back against a potential future with fewer buyers’ agents and more unrepresented homebuyers.

The second significant trend is the so-called “portal war,” which effectively began with CoStar’s entrance into the residential real estate sector. Today, CoStar — which launched its own massive ad campaign earlier this year — claims its flagship brand has grown sufficiently to make the company the second largest residential portal in the U.S., after only Zillow.

At Inman Connect New York in January, Eales pushed back against CoStar’s characterization of its position in the market but said he welcomes competition. He also noted that both and CoStar want to take the portal crown from Zillow.’s new marketing campaign generally fits into that growth-oriented agenda. But the positioning of the company as a champion of buyers’ agents, specifically, is notable; CoStar has made a point of courting listing agents via a “your listing, your lead” strategy, so’s new efforts appear to frame the company as a specialist in the other side of the homebuying transaction.

How that message resonates with consumers and industry professionals remains to be seen, but in his op-ed Eales was unequivocal about the value of buyers’ agents.

“The goal of this campaign,” he said, “is to make sure every American understands the value of having a buyer’s agent represent them by showcasing all the services they provide clients in a typical transaction.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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