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NCI President and CEO Dan McCarthy told attendees of Marketplaces 2009 in Los Angeles today that “local marketing spend is going to be reduced tremendously. It will have a big impact on all marketing budgets,” he said.

“Local media starts with price and results, “added McCarthy. “Marketers needs to hold on to as many dollars, especially with a glut of 3.6 million homes for sale and millions of duplicated listings on every independent site. You can’t feel like you’ll have a dominant impact on consumers looking for a home,” said McCarthy, whose company publishes The Real Estate Book, ApartmentFinder and the portal, among other titles.

The real estate advertising market itself has shrunk from $8 billion to $9 billion in 2006 to $3.5 billion to $4 billion today. “There is a significant sucking of dollars,” he said. On the bright side, however, “marketers are still trying to figure out: ‘How do I play?’ Social media adds another wrinkle to all this. It turbocharges word of mouth and reduces the value of ad-related leads.”

McCarthy additionally noted that Facebook has 156,000 real estate professionals using it, compared to 136,195 on ActiveRain and 80,260 on MySpace. Local marketers have to commit to content that is authentic and turn it into actual offline relationships, creating a massive personal network.

AutoTrader CEO Chip Perry, speaking on the same session, said online’s real value is that it is closing the information gap. “The biggest cap was making used cars visible. We used to have 3 percent of them visible; now we have 50 percent.”

The secret to success in the auto space is to “focus on unmet needs,” added Perry. When it comes to auto sites, what people want are “cars, inventory and specials.” That’s the reason for AutoTrader’s next major initiative: display advertising. “It’s all that is left of newspaper advertising,” he noted.

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