News’ & Fairfax’s Real Estate War Labelled “Advertising Puffery”

News’ & Fairfax’s Real Estate War Labelled “Advertising Puffery”

One of the most drawn-out and costly media battles in recent times – the war between Fairfax Media’s Domain real estate site and the rival News-owned REA Group – has continued in the Federal Court in Melbourne.

The battle – over who can lay claim to the moniker of Australia’s  “#1 property app” – has seen the judge, Justice Bernard Murphy, express dissatisfaction that such a “weak” claim had made its way to his federal court.

Both parties have claimed that each others’ advertising is deceptive to consumers while both Domain and Rea have claimed that its respective sites and apps are the market leader.

Independent research by accountancy firm Korda Mentha has found that both competing sites come out on top depending on what metrics are used.

Yesterday, the barrister for Fairfax Media, Dr Timothy Mc Evoy, said (his comments reported on Fairfax news sites) that the average consumer was unlikely to be misled by statement such as “best property listings” or “number one property” app.

Dr McEvoy added that these sorts of statements were commonplace in advertising and would generally be regarded as”advertising puffery”.

Domain’s chief editorial and marketing officer, Melina Cruickshank, also appeared in Court yesterday and added that consumer feedback via a rating system proved that (in her opinion) the Domain site was more popular than paid focus groups used by REA.

Cruickshank added: “I think an all version [rating] shows the history – how an app has evolved and responded to consumer feedback. The history is valued because it shows where the app has been … when we had 20,000 reviews we thought that would suffice in claiming we had the number one property app in Australia.”

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