Second Space - an Internet Strategy

SecondSpace's newly launched real estate websites Resortscape and Landwatch are more than meet the eye. On the surface, both sites continue the online trend towards targeting narrower, more selected real estate audiences to encompass second homes and land purchases, respectively. Other reviewers today may focus on the application design and feature aspects... I'll focus on Second Space's internet strategy and how they plan to tackle real estate.

1) The internet is most efficient connecting buyers and sellers in different and distant physical locales

Simply put, SecondSpace's initial real estate strategy is to leverage the internet's big differential advantage in nationwide real estate marketing - figuring out how to identify, buy and manage a property in a locale too far to drive to. It's two entree sites demonstrate this advantage - Resortscape and Landwatch facilitate the connection of buyers and sellers who will usually reside in different and distant locales. They are positioned to play a virtual property management role.

2) SecondSpace is an internet play

More intriguing, SecondSpace's expansion strategy is "pure internet"
- scaling the network and developing new vertical properties - and is most appropriately executed by its internet entrepreneur founders.  Anil H.P. Pereira, SecondSpace's founder, makes the analogy of building a media network: the first channels or publications target a particular consumer audience. After traction, more related channels are launched on the same platform to feed synergistically off the developing audiences of the preceding channels.

3) Vertical search strategy

Web 2.0 has entered a "vertical" development stage - the July 14th Economist article on vertical search engines confirms that search audiences are demanding more fine tuned results than a generic Google or Yahoo inquiry. Secondspace is leveraging their search technology to create vertical search functionality appropriate first to their real estate sites... but there is more.

4) "Introducing the first in our network of lifestyle websites" - SecondSpace introduces itself

On a larger scale, the consumer searches along the lines of real estate in aggregate will capture life style preferences. For example, a search for second homes in Park City, Utah, or horse ranch land in Montana reveals a lot about that consumer. A vertical search engine that helps consumers fine tune what they are looking for becomes more functional not only for consumers but for the various businesses that cater to them (also known as the advertisers). Once data on a particular consumer populates, the vertical search engine is not only applicable to real estate, it can be used by the same consumer for flights into Salt Lake City, for fishing and camping in the summer, for Park City night life. SecondSpace plans to build out new topical sites - i.e. fishing - catering to consumer lifestyle that will complement Resortscape and Landwatch, and its brethren. Moreover, these sites will activate "web services" that allow advertisers to engage and transact with the consumer on a variety of levels... Landwatch already features some of these web services in its right sidebar under "Now Featuring".

The power behind SecondScape is in the evolution of their vertical search data on consumer lifestyle. Think of this database as making the consumer more transparent. Real estate brokers and agents can benefit from consumer transparency... in fact, one potential SecondScape strategy may be to partner with the brokers to offer lifestyle search through their websites.

5) The Management Question

Real estate can be pretty quirky as internet veterans at Zillow and Redfin discovered. Who will mind the real estate shops at ResortScape and Landwatch? Can product managers with Microsoft pedigrees adapt quickly enough to market and sell to brokers and agents? Time will tell, but management of any new vertical always has a learning curve. This is  the challenge of managing an online business that plans to have its fingers in many pies... particularly when these pies have to taste right (i.e., functioning credibly within their verticals).

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  • 7/23/2007 10:36 AM Anonymous wrote:
    It's interesting because this is what has been doing for years. These guys appear to just be putting a spin on it all targeted toward an extremely high demographic.
    Reply to this
    1. 7/23/2007 10:52 AM Pat Kitano wrote:
      Hi Anonymous... are you associated with LandsofAmerica? I do note there are a number of sites that are promoting land purchase and vacation homes but they are independent of each other. The key point I'm making about SecondSpace is their strategy to capture a broader consumer market beyond just land purchasing. My article may be difficult to follow because the concept of SecondSpace's leveraging their vertical search engine strategy is hard to understand because it hasn't really been done before.

      Reply to this

  • 7/23/2007 12:22 PM Erik Hersman wrote:
    Pat, if their big play is to harness the internet's competitive advantage in creating a place for people to see properties and capture their imaginations, then they've got some work to do.

    They have a great initial layout to the site, but when it gets down to the actual property, the images are small, I can't see the size of the property on the map, there is no video, and not much detail. I understand it's new though, so I'd guess there will be some upgrades to that over time.

    The other interesting item of note is that they're using a "one size fits all" template. It makes business sense because that allows them to roll out many future niche sites by just reskinning the base. However, that might be a little limiting when trying to customize for specific niche's and demographics.
    Reply to this
    1. 7/23/2007 3:12 PM Pat Kitano wrote:
      Erik, you understand real estate and can see where Second Space's learning curve needs some adjustment. I would suggest that SecondSpace develop a real estate advisory board for their two properties in order to complement their corporate advisory board.

      Reply to this

  • 7/23/2007 10:33 PM 4MySales wrote:
    Interesting web strategy. As you said, there is more to the site than meets the eye. On the surface, it doesn't look that dynamic.

    Reply to this
    1. 7/23/2007 11:32 PM Pat Kitano wrote:
      In essence, the strategy is still theoretical and the tactics (the actual websites) have yet to be refined...

      Reply to this

  • 7/25/2007 7:21 PM Vernon wrote:
    "The other interesting item of note is that they're using a "one size fits all" template. It makes business sense because that allows them to roll out many future niche sites by just reskinning the base. However, that might be a little limiting when trying to customize for specific niche's and demographics."

    Eric ... could you or someone else explain more

    Reply to this
    1. 7/26/2007 5:44 AM Erik Hersman wrote:
      Hi Vernon, sure I can explain what I was saying a little more.

      If you look at both of the sites that were just launched, they have the same overall structure - the pages and the navigation. For instance, the space available, and the layout, of the property data on each one is identical.

      That's not necessarily a bad thing, because it allows you to scale into other niche areas quickly. You don't have to create brand new sites for each portal you're trying to open up into.

      The one drawback is that some of the niches might need bigger images, larger maps, video integration, etc. This current layout doesn't allow for that.

      That's all I was talking about. It's not a huge limiting factor, but it does have repercussions.
      Reply to this

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