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New Ways to Build Your Personal Brand

September 14 2015

ftl adwerx carlsonHave you ever noticed that certain ads seem to follow you online? You visit a brand's site once, and then you see their ad on various places across the web for days or weeks after. This is called ad retargeting and it's one of the most effective forms of online advertising available today.

While online retailers have successfully used retargeting for several years, this technology was largely unavailable to the real estate industry--until recently. In late 2013, a company called AdwerxAdwerx launched a tool that lets agents quickly and easily create ads that follow likely real estate consumers as they surf the web.

Before Adwerx's debut, agents were frequently limited to purchasing pricey advertising through their brokers or outside vendors. Many of these solutions had a steep learning curve that scared off all but the most tech savvy agents. And none offered agents the high ROI that results from retargeting's potent combination of repeat ad exposure and laser focus on audience.

But simply retargeting ads to the right consumer isn't enough to ensure success. What is being advertised is critical, as well. Adwerx discovered this through trial and error. In its early stages, the company served ads of individual listings. When that strategy produced lackluster results, the company pivoted and began offering ads for the real estate agents themselves, showcasing the agent's headshot and contact information. This updated focus gave agents a new channel to build their personal brand within their community.

Adwerx has grown by leaps and bounds since launching their agent branding solution. To learn more about how the company is shaking up advertising in real estate, we chatted with the man at the helm, Adwerx CEO Jed Carlson.

An Unlikely Beginning

Adwerx was born out of an industry that's about as far from real estate as one can imagine. The company is a spin-off of ReverbNation, an online platform that allows musicians to target ads to web surfers that like their type of music.

While the parallels between musicians and real estate agents may not seem obvious, the two groups have similar advertising needs. Yes, both groups sell things—albums and homes—but unlike retailers, neither uses advertising for direct sales. What does work for both groups is building brand awareness through advertising—a band's "sound" or an agent's expertise. It's less effective for a musician to advertise individual songs or for agents to advertise individual listings.

With these similar needs in mind, Adwerx applied ReverbNation's advertising model to the real estate industry. In keeping with real estate's hyperlocal advertising needs, Adwerx allows agents and brokers to target local prospects by zip code. "You tell us the zip codes in which you want to reach people, and we find them," Carlson explains. "Then we qualify them by locating those people that are 'in the market' for real estate, based on what they are doing online."

Targeting Consumers According to Online Behavior

Adwerx determines who's in the market for real estate by examining the online behavior of web surfers. "It might be that they're visiting listing sites, using a mortgage calculator, or researching moving companies," says Carlson. "Once we've found the specific people in an area that are in the market for real estate based on what they're doing online, we then take the ad for an agent or brokerage and we follow those people wherever they go on the web."

It's this ability to hyper-target consumers by both geography and behavior that makes it affordable for even a small business to advertise online. "You have pulled all the needles out of the haystacks," Carlson says.

Beyond the narrow targeting, the success of Adwerx ads stems from the repetition of consistently being in front of the consumer. Carlson uses an analogy to explain this. Imagine the Internet is a mall and Adwerx provides billboard services. "Consumers are more likely to shop at 'Sam's Shoe Shop' if they see five signs during their time at the mall saying, Don't forget to shop at Sam's Shoe Shop on the second floor!" says Carlson. "That's what Adwerx does for agents."

The first time a consumer sees an agent's ad, they probably won't click on it, Carlson says. However, seeing that same Realtor® and brand 20 times within a short period, eventually that consumer will click the ad simply out of recognition.

Online Advertising is Easier Than You Think

For agents, Carlson sees the primary benefit of Adwerx as being a simple and affordable way to get into the digital advertising game. He relates that at trade shows and conferences, he often meets agents overwhelmed by things they're "supposed" to be doing online.

"With Adwerx, you don't need to be an expert in online marketing," he says. "Spend your valuable time being an expert at your job."

Though Adwerx offers sophisticated behavioral targeting, it's simple to use. The platform lets agents generate ads and select zip codes to target in just a few minutes via a user-friendly interface. Once you're up and running, 15 minutes a week is all you need (at most!) to deliver effective advertising to a receptive local audience.

To learn more about Adwerx, visit