Redfin’s Glenn Kelman makes about-face regarding paid advertising

A few weeks ago, prior to the announcement of another $14M cash infusion, Redfin’s Glenn Kelman said “If Redfin has to pay a media site for traffic, we will not be able to make real estate better.”

Just a few months before that, he spoke again about not buying advertising: “The only ads we’ll pay for are the ones we show to millions of people on our own site, for free.”

But in a dramatic about-face, Redfin has begun buying advertising again, this time paying for such key words as “Seattle Real Estate” and apparently appropriating the name of my own business “Seattle Dream Homes” in an advertising campaign using Google Adwords.

What is the cause of this sudden advertising campaign and why the likely appropriation and use of a tiny competetors exact business name?

As the Business Journal points out, Redfin is not in the top 10 of most-visited real estate sites, which gives them perhaps a 1% market share.

They recently accepted another $14M, even though in interviews Kelman claims Redfin is profitable and doesn’t need it.

Zip Realty recently converted their employees to independent contractors and also discontinued making rebates to buyers. If Zip couldn’t make it, how could Redfin, with their 100’s of employees and 50% commission rebate? With that kind of business plan, they need to make up the refund with volume, which could explain the sudden backtracking on advertising.

Interesting enough, they don’t seem to be advertising in every city, just Seattle. I suspect that is because Seattle remains their cash cow and the media here is particularly friendly to them. A certain tech writer reports every burp and fart and that continues to give the company free publicity. They also seem to have the most employees located in Seattle and they seem to be very top-heavy in administration and technical support here, and they are advertising for dozens of new jobs in the Seattle area.

It’s interesting that Redfin appears so desperate as to try to siphon off my customers using the exact name of my business in their Google Adwords. Could this really be the business plan of a successful and profitable company with 100′s of employees and millions of dollars, to try to skim business from one little tiny real estate broker? Wow.

Update: It was pointed out to me that one gets similar results when one searches for Seattle discount brokerage “Findwell

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