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  • Mal McCallion

Rightmove's swagger

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Looks pretty innocuous, right? Just an average email from a company getting its marketing policy housekeeping in order. Nothing to see here ...

... BUT.

And it's a capitalised BUT, with a GIF:

(and some fanfare, probably a few animated fireworks.)

Because this change to their dull ol' T&Cs dropped out of the blue, for the first time I can recall since I've been registered with Rightmove - and that was 20 years ago when I was stalking them, as we were setting up Primelocation at the same time.

Still, it's just an email though, right?

Well, consider that it also arrived a day before Rightmove's 2023 Half Year results were announced. In these, you may have noticed that their ARPA - Average Revenue Per Advertiser (ie agent) - is up once more, by 9% to £1,411 per month. Revenue is up 10%, profit is up 7% and their new CEO is insisting that they're going to be able to keep their profit margin between 70% and 72% - yes, £129,500,000 of their 6-month (only half a year remember!) £179,500,000 revenue is pure profit - whilst 'modestly' increasing investment to drive organic growth.

Shall we put a number on that 70%-72% spread? Currently, if they drop down from where they are (72.14% profit) to 70%, for a full year that will give them £5,542,000 to play around with, a staggering amount just on its own. And - don't forget - there are the results before the full price increases to agents, announced in January, of around 17% kick in.

'Modest' it is not.

And what might they spend it on? Well - again, consider the timing - the new CEO announced a new appointment to Rightmove's Board the week before its results were announced. This was his first appointment - and she's an AI expert who runs product for Thomson Reuters.

Which brings us, finally, to that new CEO. Johan Svanstrom has been in place for five months. His background is building a £3Bn revenue line at and before that heading up Digital Innovation at McDonald's Corp. It's fair to say that he's unlikely to take his predecessor's broadly benign view of his company, that you'd always find Rightmove in the kitchen at parties. 'We're quite shy. We just do what we do,' said Peter Brooks-Johnson, daintily, in 2015.

No, Svanstrom will be at the centre of the dancefloor with some strong AI moves in his hips and his eyeballs scouring the room for a half-billion-pound revenue line in 2024. He didn't come to this party to hang out - he's going to make it pop-off. Whereas the older guard seemed happy to simply chip away at agents' marketing budgets over time, it's impossible to believe that continuing this nurturing of the P&L would be the musical vibes that brought this big-hitter through the door.

And so, back to our email. Housekeeping? For sure. But what it also says is that they're looking at absolutely everything, all over again. Even the tiniest detail, the things that kitchen-dwellers would ignore. It's all up for grabs, fresh eyes are roaming all corners of Rightmove Towers - and that means that 'shy' Rightmove is over.

We're about to be introduced to a much more confident booty-shaker. And that ought to worry every single other business in this space.

Source: Midjourney

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