A Homes.com conference booth screen with "100M+ unique visitors"
Photo: AJ LaTrace

Facing scrutiny, CoStar alters high-profile Homes.com ads 

Ad watchdog sides with Realtor.com challenges to Homes.com traffic claims — the latest twist in the hard-fought battle for the No. 2 spot in home search.

Updated July 10, 2024
3 minutes

CoStar has agreed to change two high-profile ads promoting traffic claims for its Homes.com website, following a recommendation from the National Advertising Division of BBB National Programs (NAD).     

The decision came after Move Inc., parent company of Realtor.com, brought two fast-track challenges over the following claims:

  • "Homes.com just reached 156M monthly unique visitors."

  • "Homes.com now has DOUBLE Realtor.com's traffic."

How we got here: Longtime home search leader Realtor.com and fast-growing rival Homes.com have been waging a hard-fought battle for traffic and agent attention over the past year, with dueling claims and counterclaims.

In October, Homes.com claimed to have reached more than 100 million unique visitors, making it second only to Zillow in terms of traffic and beating the goal CoStar CEO Andy Florance had laid out just a few months earlier. However Realtor.com and others expressed skepticism about that claim at the time.

A closer look at the challenges: NAD said the claim about Homes.com reaching 156 million monthly unique visitors should be discontinued because the figure was based on "combined total traffic, calculated using Google Analytics, for 16 other CoStar websites. According to Google Analytics, Homes.com itself has 110 million monthly unique visitors."

And the claim that Homes.com had doubled Realtor.com's traffic is not supported, NAD said, "because Homes.com's claimed 110 million monthly visitors are not 'double' the 66 million unique visitors claimed by Realtor.com."

NAD declined to weigh in on whether or not it is acceptable to use Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics together to make a single comparison of website visitors, another area of disagreement.

However, nothing in these decisions prevents CoStar from "making other truthful and non-misleading claims about the number of unique visitors to its websites collectively, or to any of its individual websites, or comparative claims about Homes.com's traffic," NAD said.

What CoStar had to say: "The NAD did not say our numbers are inaccurate or somehow invalid," CoStar General Counsel Gene Boxer told Real Estate News. "In fact, to the contrary, they recognized Homes.com network had 156 million monthly unique visitors in March of 2024 and Homes.com by itself had 110 million."

Going forward, Boxer said, "there's nothing that's going to impact our advertising." CoStar will continue to reference the Homes.com network, which has been a priority for months, and continue to be clear about it, he added. "We didn't try to hide it."

What Realtor.com had to say: Realtor.com CEO Damian Eales said the company was pleased that NAD saw through CoStar's "smoke and mirrors" claims, which he has been pushing back on for months.

"CoStar has misled Homes.com customers while Realtor.com has remained focused on growing a quality audience and quality leads for both buying agents and listing agents," Eales added.

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