A complaint about OnTheMarket has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority as being misleading
A second complaint, also about OTM’s advertising of its ‘new and exclusive’ feature, was investigated but not upheld.
The first complaint was about OTM’s television advertisement, seen in May, and which had been cleared by the broadcasting company Clearcast.
In the advert, the voice-over stated: “… agents have moved to OnTheMarket.com from other sites and many are advertising their new properties exclusively with us first, 24 hours or more ahead of other portals. So to be first to see these.”
A second complaint was about a poster on the London underground which stated: “OnTheMarket gets thousands of new properties every month, 24 hours or more before Rightmove or Zoopla.”
The complainants challenged whether the claims that properties could be seen exclusively on OTM 24 hours or more before being seen on other websites or portals were misleading.
OTM told the advertising watchdog that some of its agents had committed to launching some or all of their newly instructed properties by advertising them on OTM before other portals.
OTM supplied spreadsheet information showing the number of agencies and their branches that had uploaded a property exclusively, and the overall number of properties that had been on OTM for at least 24 hours.
However, OTM said it would be the case that many agents also advertised their properties on their own website.
OTM believed consumers would interpret the ‘exclusive’ claims as being in the context of property portals.
OTM also acknowledged an example provided by one of the complainants where the ‘new and exclusive’ banner continued to appear despite the property appearing on another portal.
OTM said it had removed this as soon as its monitoring identified the situation. It said that it took considerable steps to avoid such situations, but there was some margin for errors.
The ASA upheld the complaint, saying that the claim to advertise new properties exclusively for the first 24 hours was a “significant” one which would encourage consumers to visit OTM before other portals.
Viewers were likely to interpret the claim as meaning that almost all estate agents were advertising new properties exclusively with OTM for the first 24 hours.
However, only “a small percentage” of properties advertised with OTM each month were advertised exclusively for the first 24 hours.
For that reason, the TV advert was misleading.
Regarding the London underground poster, the ASA said that OTM did, as it claimed, have several thousand new properties advertised exclusively with it each month, 24 hours before appearing on other portals.
It dismissed the complaint, but told OTM that it must not run the TV advert again in the same form.
A spokesperson for OTM said: “We are disappointed that the recent complaint about a phrase within our long-running TV commercial has been upheld by the ASA.
“We had certainly never intended to mislead consumers but we respect the ruling of the ASA that the phrase ‘advertise their properties’ could be interpreted to imply ‘advertise (all) their properties’.
“More positively, we are very pleased that the ASA rejected a complaint about our factual claim on posters that OnTheMarket gets thousands of new properties every month, 24 hours or more before Rightmove or Zoopla.”