PropertyGuru acquires Ensign Media assets, absorbs staff
By Benjamin Cher January 13, 2016
- Purchase covers Property Report and Asia Property Awards
- To strengthen PropertyGuru’s branding and industry credibility
SINGAPORE-based online property portal company PropertyGuru has announced its acquisition of the real estate media assets of Thai-based Ensign Media – luxury and lifestyle magazine Property Report and the Asia Property Awards – for an undisclosed sum.
As part of the acquisition, PropertyGuru will absorb the existing staff of Ensign Media.
The acquisition of these media assets is part of PropertyGuru’s efforts to strengthen its branding and credibility in the industry, according to cofounder and chief executive officer Steve Melhuish.
“When we looked at it [PropertyGuru’s branding], we said there was one big thing missing – industry awards,” Melhuish told a media briefing in Singapore.
“Industry awards are an important part of the equation as real estate developers think about credibility and about brand, which led to this acquisition we are announcing today,” he added.
Property Report is a magazine focused on luxury real estate, architecture and design around Asia. The Asia Property Awards is an independently adjudicated award, which highlights and celebrates the region’s real estate industry.
Neither party disclosed the financial details of the acquisition, with Melhuish saying that the acquisition is worth “millions of dollars in various components over a period of three years, with some money upfront and some based on performance.”
Credibility and branding
The property search process is complex, confusing and sometimes contradictory, according to Melhuish, and that’s where content and tools play an important part.
“Research is very much happening online … and therefore our job is to make that process easy as possible, while making content transparent and neutral,” he said.
The acquisition allows PropertyGuru to expand its content to include luxury and lifestyle property, while gaining an award helps developers establish credibility.
“We get content that is luxury and lifestyle focused with Property Report, and we have the existing property research news and articles we are already providing,” Melhuish said.
“On top of that, how do consumers know whether the developer is reputable or the project a high-quality one? The fact that the judges are audited and independent increases the credibility when a developer wins the award,” he added.
The acquisition also adds reach with an audience that looks at more high-end and luxury property, “which is good from a branding point of view,” Melhuish said.
Integration and plans
While Property Report is primarily a print magazine, it does have a website serving online content. However, there are areas that can benefit from more online development, according to Ensign Media founder and chief executive officer Terry Blackburn.
“We have lots of areas of development online, such as the listings for the Property Award winners.
“We are moving into sponsored content online, which gives us more opportunities for growth,” he said.
Blackburn said these online developments would be complementary to the print product.
Arguing that the reach of print today, versus 10 years ago, is much less, he said that “we now have the opportunity to expand that reach.”
“We can still do a lot of things in print that we can’t do online, but we are a content-focused company, and online gives us the opportunity to have more media like podcasts and videos, increasing our reach,” he added.
Brands have been slow in making the move to online, and PropertyGuru hopes to seize this opportunity, according to Melhuish.
“If we can create really sticky content that addresses the mass and luxury markets, we can pull the eyeballs in and start to vie for the advertising dollars,” he said.
“Property Report supports that as it is the best in the luxury segment,” he declared.
There is also the perception that online is not for luxury property, but Melhuish believes that this is changing.
“I remember last year there was an interesting case – there was a S$16.6-million (US$11.5-million) penthouse sold in three weeks, and it was advertised on one place – PropertyGuru – and nowhere else,” he said.
He said the branding boost from Property Report and the Asia Property Awards will help it in countering this perception.
While Property Report publishes in more countries than PropertyGuru is currently operating in, Melhuish sees no need for expansion anytime soon.
“We have no immediate objectives to go in – if you look at how our business model works, it is around being strong and having depth in the markets we already are in.
“It is about making [PropertyGuru] more relevant to investors and developers, creating richer and more relevant content, and continued innovation and brand building,” he added.
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