Dreaming of a new home? Zillow’s new ad campaign signals changes in real estate and marketing

A new ad from Zillow is a sign of shifting sands in the housing market.

Called “Ready for a Change,” the ad features a composite street with single-family homes, an apartment building and, ultimately, a beach house — illustrating how the pandemic is causing many people to rethink their living situations.

The new campaign from the Seattle-based real estate technology company is also notable as a business indicator. Marketing spending was one of the first things to go in the early days of the pandemic, as companies looked for quick fixes to stop the bleeding of the economic fallout. As part of its coronavirus playbook, Zillow said in March that it was slashing expenses by 25% this year, freezing hiring across the company, and cutting nearly all marketing spend.

But real estate has been surviving the pains of the pandemic. Zillow says sale prices are on the rise and homes are selling at their fastest pace in more than two years.

Zillow said during its most recent earnings call that it would begin to increase marketing and advertising investments in the third quarter to press its “leadership position and drive growth.”

The rise of remote work has prompted speculation about whether workers, especially in tech hubs, would flee high-priced markets for suburban or small-town markets where bigger homes and more space and affordability were available. Browsing for a new place to live has been dubbed a new “pandemic pastime,” with traffic to for-sale listings on Zillow reaching all-time highs, up 36% since this time last year, according to the company.

“People value home now more than ever and the pandemic has reshaped where and how Americans want to live,” said Aimee Johnson, Zillow chief marketing officer, in a news release about the ad.

Zillow’s ad will run in 15- and 30-second formats on cable networks including HGTV, the History Channel and the Food Network, plus Hulu and other streaming services.

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