coldwellAs one of the biggest real estate companies in the country, Coldwell Banker is in a tough spot when it comes to media. It has to drive leads for its brokers. It has to make consumers aware that it has the stability to get through a huge market downturn. Last week it announced a major online and offline media campaign aimed at doing both. In terms of spending it’s split down the middle and we talked to Senior Marketing Vice President Mike Fischer about its positioning.

Century 21, which is perhaps your biggest competitor, announced it was moving 100 percent of its spending online. Why not follow that?
I believe in balance. There’s a cost for everything and I think in order for us to take care of our brokers and our consumers we need to make sure we have a balanced approach. We’ll probably spend 40 percent of our budget online. I think that’s a pretty good place to be.

Is this campaign about lead generation, branding, or both?
Well, obviously we need to get people online to check out our properties. We need to drive them to the right sites. But I also think we need to generate a discussion. We’ve been in this business for 103 years. We’ve seen a lot of recessions come and go. We need to let consumers know that we’ve seen these market conditions before and we know how to handle them.

When you have a marketing meeting this year, how is the tone and goal of the campaigns different than last year?
Well, I’d say a couple of things are different. This year there’s a lot of craziness offline and we’re trying to get our heads around that. But I’d also say that we talk a lot more about spending our money efficiently. We talk a lot more about display ads online, which is a bigger piece of the puzzle for us than it was last year. I think there’s more we can do with display ads. I’m a big engagement guy. I’m not completely sure that display ads accomplish engagement. They let us control the tone of the conversation, but I also think there’s a lot to be said for paid search.

At the end of the year will your ad budget be up or down over 2008?