Domain CEO lashes out at 'copycat' rival REA

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 30 November 2016
Antony Catalano

Domain CEO Antony Catalano has come out swinging at rival for its 'copycat' tactics.

In a damning statement released from Catalano on Domain’s digital audience record, he says the “leader is now the follower” and REA has been “imitating” its product, audience and media strategy.

“We are constantly amused at our competitors "copy fast" approach to our product and content innovation. It must be demoralising for the staff at REA to be told constantly that they are No 1 but have to behave every day like they are No 2. I can't imagine how their staff are motivated when all management advocates is a strategy to litigate and imitate,” he says.

“We launched a massive outdoor campaign and they followed. They changed their homepage to look like ours. We sponsored an AFL team and they did the same. We launched school catchment zones and they produced a poor imitation. But the thing that made us smile the most was watching News Limited and REA announce a replication of our strategy for content.

“Only 12 months ago their management team told analysts that our audience should be ignored because much of our growth was around content. Now the lights have come on and they want to copy our content strategy. Good luck building a credible editorial team with bloggers and tabloid hacks rather than professional journalists with a rich history in producing trusted and independent content.”

The comments follow Domain reaching a record digital audience of 4.69 million Australians in October. The publisher, owned by Fairfax, is chasing REA’s audience, which hit 5.9 million in the same month.

domain audience

“A total of 4.69 million Australians engaged with the Domain brands in October making us one of the biggest digital brands in the country. The Domain team is abuzz knowing this is possibly one of the best turnaround stories in Australian media in only three years,” Catalano says.

“Our strategy has allowed us to reach and convert a whole new generation who put mobile and social at the centre of their media consumption. We are not only leading the country in social media for property, but we are world leaders in mobile and social execution for property seekers.”

REA responded to Catalano's claims defending its leadership position with a statement issued to AdNews from executive general manager of media and marketing Libby Minogue: “We are proud of the market leading experiences that we provide and the loyalty our consumers have to our brands.

"Our consumers and customers continue to see us as the number one place for property as evidenced by our average monthly visits being more than 2.3 times our nearest competitor and having a more engaged audience. Our audience spends 7.5 times more on than any other brand in the property space.

"As always, we will remain focused on delivering the best property experience for customers and consumers.”

In the month of October Domain's audience grew by 6.3%, while News Corp-owned REA grew at 4.2%. While Domain has been a strong performer for Fairfax, earlier this year it axed 16 journalists from its The Weekly Review editorial team - the property magazine launched by Catalano in 2010.

Earlier this week AdNews reported Domain is expanding into lifestyle as it looks to involve more non-traditional brands with its content. 

“Domain has evolved into a diverse marketplace with many areas of growth still to take off. We have barely scratched the surface in terms of Domain’s transition from a real estate listings portal into a media and lifestyle brand that takes consumers through the whole property lifecycle," Catalano says.

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