A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate advertising law body of BBB National Programs, recommended that CoStar Group, Inc. discontinue the claim “The Most Popular Place to Find a Place” and that it modify certain advertising to make clear that it is directed only to the rental market.
The advertising at issue had been challenged before the National Advertising Division (NAD) by Zillow, Inc., operator of a competing real estate website platform for selling, buying, and renting homes and apartments. CoStar Group had agreed to comply with NAD’s ruling but appealed NAD’s decision on certain issues (Case No. 7045).
The NARB panel determined that one reasonable message conveyed by the “Most Popular” tagline is that the advertiser’s site is the preferred site for researching available rental properties, a subjective standard. Because the advertiser did not have consumer research to support that message, the panel recommended that the “Most Popular” tagline be discontinued. The panel noted that nothing in its decision would preclude the advertiser from making a properly supported claim that specifies the specific data point, such as “most unique visitors.”
The NARB panel also concluded that prominent references to the brand name “Apartments.com,” in CoStar Group’s commercials that use the “Most Popular” tagline, reasonably convey that the advertising messages are directed to the rental market. To ensure that the ads do not also convey a message about purchases, however, the panel recommended that advertising that refers to “find a place” or comparable phrases should also include at least one conspicuous reference to renters, renting, or a visual that conveys a rental-market message.
CoStar Group stated that while it respectfully disagrees with the panel’s ultimate conclusions, it will accept all of the panel’s recommendations.
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BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.