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[Editor’s note: e27 regularly accepts contributions from the community, and we do our best to ensure that the guest contributions we publish are actually useful and helpful to the community, and not promotional in nature. The article referenced here was a contribution from an employee of DREA, as referenced from her e27 author’s profile. Likewise, this particular article is a guest contribution from 99.co founder Darius Cheung.]

We saw this e27 article today discussing property portals, and for some reason seemed to be intently promoting a local startup called DREA, and we were frankly quite surprised by how one-sided and ill-considered many of the arguments were. So we took a deeper look and turns out that it was written by the digital marketer at the company, and blatantly masqueraded as an editorial. We thought we’d share our views on the subject matter.

People want choice, not ads

The article’s entire premise is that portals like 99.co have too many listings and people who are sellers of properties, primarily real estate agents, should not bother listing on such platforms, and should instead do their own direct advertising on Google and Facebook (using tools like DREA) for the specific listing they are trying to sell.

Here’s the thing: Ads suck. People don’t want ads. They want choice.

Technology companies like us exist not as an ‘advertising platform’, but as a ‘decision tool’ to help users (a) find all the best options available in the market, and (b) provide comparison tools and data to help them make a good decision amongst a sea of options.

Also Read: This Singaporean startup aims to be the one-stop portal for homeseekers

Advertising a single property you are trying to sell on Facebook or Google (which is essentially what tools like DREA does) would never be effective. Buying property is a big decision that buyer take weeks and months to do their homework on (unlike small impulse purchases where an enticing ad may work).

And thus having a wide choice is important. We at 99.co see a continued growth of users (and more importantly, satisfaction of the search results), as we increase our base of listings. To highlight, having almost 10 per cent of our listings that are exclusively on 99.co makes it all the more important for them to set alerts or come back regularly to make sure they are not missing out on a good deal.

Browsing at one glance - condos within 1km of  the 4 upcoming MRT stations on Thomson-East Coast line, sorted by Lowest PSF

Browsing at one glance – condos within 1km of  the 4 upcoming MRT stations on Thomson-East Coast line, sorted by Lowest PSF

Data, tools, and better decisions

More importantly, as more information and data become available, consumers are getting smarter and smarter with making good decisions. Buying or renting is no longer guess work — consumers can use many data points from recent transaction prices to other comparable listings to make better decisions.

Our users come to 99.co not to see ‘ads’ but to learn, compare and make decisions, assisted with data and tools such as these:

Real Transaction Price Trend at one glance to help users decide what is the right price to pay

Real Transaction Price Trend at one glance to help users decide what is the right price to pay

Fake news and the new world order

But here’s what actually got us agitated: For ####’s sake, if you are the the digital marketer of a company and want to pimp your product, at least have the balls to admit it and not write it pretending it is an editorial.

Also Read: Ironclad contracts: Averspace launches blockchain p2p house renting in Singapore

The bigger question is, of course, as publishing technology and business can only get more rapid (i.e. less fact-check-able) and open, reputable sites such as e27, which readers like us rely on will become vulnerable to social engineering. How should media businesses and the rest of the community help defend the integrity and value of published content? I don’t have any proposals or solutions, but fake news has done HUGE damage in the world in 2016 and if we don’t stay vigilant, this may be a trend that would destroy us all.


The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here.

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