A look back at 2011… and a peek forward

It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone but 2012 is already here. As the team works to plan for the year, I always like to take some time to reflect back on the past year and the commercial real estate sector.

Looking back on 2011, three things really stand out.

  1. Mobile Technology is the real deal
  2. Commercial Real Estate is social
  3. LoopNet had an incredible year

Mobile Technology
The rise of mobile technology is hard to ignore. And it is impossible to argue we have come a long way since the first cell phone in 1984 commonly referred to as “the brick”. I vividly remember using it while visiting commercial investment properties in suburban Chicago in 1992. It weighed as much as a brick, it worked reasonably well and boy do I remember the first bill – over $400 in roaming charges in the first month. If you can’t remember or are too young to appreciate what it looked like you can see a picture of it on MSNBC.

Today is a very different picture. Most people not only have a mobile phone but most have a smart phone that provides anytime and anywhere access to email, internet and games. (Yes, I am one of the 500 Million downloads of Angry Birds.) These advancements have begun to change the way we conduct business and interact not only socially but also for business. Commercial real estate is or shall I say will be no exception.

This past year, LoopNet.com witnessed a shift in how people search for commercial real estate. You may remember that in 2010 we were the first commercial real estate company to launch an iPhone app. Six months after the launch only about 2% of our searches came via the mobile platform. Since then, we have launched numerous other mobile access points including an iPad app, Android app and a mobile website, and that percentage of traffic from mobile devices is now closer to 20%. In other words we have seen nearly 10X growth in mobile searches in one year and we expect to only see this number grow.

With that type of growth, LoopNet will continue to focus on advancing our mobile platform and footprint.

Social Networks
Social media is everywhere and it is only getting bigger and more useful. Who would have guessed a few years ago how popular the social media websites would become? Like it or not, they are not going away. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, personal blogs – millions of people are communicating via social media and for many, it has become a part of their daily routine. I took a quick look at the latest usage stats and it is absolutely mind blowing. Facebook statistics claim over 800 million active users, LinkedIn over 135 million users and Twitter over 100 million.

With those type of numbers, it becomes obvious that we need to be part of that culture. That is why LoopNet is active on all the major social networks and has worked to provide tools to help our industry get up to speed.

We recently polled our users to see what they thought of social media and the results were impressive.

  • 72% said they had a Facebook account
  • 79% use LinkedIn for professional networking
  • 24% of LoopNet subscribers use social media daily for business purposes
  • 69% say they’ve benefitted professionally from using social media

LoopNet 2011
Of course no year-end reflection would be complete without a look at how we did as a business. Keep in mind, we are very tough critics. Our objective is simple – “To Make Deals Happen!” and our philosophy is to “Put Clients First”. At LoopNet, we strive to continuously improve the way business and specifically commercial real estate is done. This past year was no exception. We worked hard to bring innovation to the industry and as a result, we achieved a number of milestones and accomplishments in 2011.

  • Surpassed 5 million registered members
    We have had thousands of new members sign up each week and in June we recorded our 5 millionth member registration. LoopNet continues to be a major player in the commercial real estate market and we have the highest trafficked commercial listing website with more than 2 million unique visitors each month.
  • Launch of our ProTools Marketing Solution
    With the launch of ProTools, LoopNet officially offers our customers a one stop shop for marketing their commercial real estate properties and services. The ProTools Solution complements our marketplace by offering highly customized, professional tools to manage all email and online communications with prospects.
  • Property Comps Upgrade
    Our sales comp product underwent some tremendous upgrades in both data and functionality. It has grown by over 25% in the past year and now contains over 1.5 million arm’s length transactions. As part of this expansion, Property Comps now offers some insight into the distressed market with the addition of over 23,000 REO/Bank Sold property sales to the database. We have also added over 35 new data fields and 60% more photos.
  • Industry Leading Presentation and Reporting Templates
    “It is all about the presentation” and we have made it easier for our members to share information with clients. This past year, LoopNet created over 30 new report templates that can be instantly-edited, customized, branded and shared with clients in minutes.
  • Expansion of our mobile platform
    As mentioned earlier, mobile is big and LoopNet has worked very hard continue our commitment to meet the mobile demands of our users. Last year it was the iPhone. This year we rolled out LoopNet’s Android App. Droid users can now search for commercial properties on-the-go, plot properties and get driving directions.
  • LoopNet iPad makes the top 20 list
    Our iPad app is more popular than ever. In addition to being the #1 iPad app within commercial real estate according to Inman, we recently made the Apple Store top 20 list in the Business Category. Thanks for the downloads!
  • Award-winning Customer Solutions
    It is always a great day for LoopNet when we are able to help our corporate customer’s excel, so we could not have been more thrilled when one of our clients won a Digie award for the iPad / iPhone App developed by LoopNet.

What’s Next
2011 brought some interesting changes to commercial real estate industry and LoopNet obviously worked diligently to lead the way. Here is what we see and suggest for those looking to stay ahead in the rapidly changing commercial real estate industry:

  • Go Mobile: We expect continued growth and advancement of mobile technology. It is not necessary to be on the bleeding edge, just get yourself an iPhone – it is an amazing productivity tool.
  • Embrace Social Media: Get involved in the conversation or at least be an active listener. Social media is not going away and it can be a powerful tool for your business.
  • Embrace Change: The way we do business and interact is constantly changing – just text your kids, they will text you back that it is true. Don’t be afraid of change – embrace it.

Here at LoopNet, we look forward to continuing to innovate in 2012 and help the commercial real estate market move forward. We have some exciting things planned and we hope to over achieve expectations. Here is a sneak peek at one of the many things that are coming soon: Sneak Peek Video.

Happy New Year!

Tom