How REA Group is creating an enhanced digital playground

Chief digital officer, Val Brown aims to provide ‘intuitive, personalised experiences’

Property seekers on realestate.com.au can take a walk through their potential new home using a virtual reality property app, one of many digital initiatives being deployed by the online property site to cater to shifting consumer demands.

“The market is changing very quickly, so it’s important for us to support our current offering, but also to play with different types of innovation, whether it is innovation that is very relevant for us,” REA Group head of digital, Val Brown, told CMO.

Brown leads a team of more than 120 people in Australia, bringing together the functions of product management, design and engineering to create what she said are “intuitive and personalised experiences” that help individuals make great property decisions.

The realestate.com.au virtual reality app, which Brown claimed was the first of its kind when launched in November 2016, delivers tours of houses and estates for sale inside Google’s Daydream View VR headset. Users can inspect properties in minutes rather than having to trek across town to do in-person viewings.

REA Group's VR appREA Group’s VR app

“The market is becoming more and more fragmented in terms of channels, so we need to make sure we are experimenting with innovation, but also investing at the right time: Investing when we think things are going to go mass market,” she said.

As part of her digital remit, Brown is on a mission to promote ‘personalisation’, a task she’s familiar with given her passion for product, design and engineering.

She has been with REA Group for more than eight years and held several leadership roles across consumer and customer product, product strategy, mobile and personalisation. Prior to REA Group, Brown’s experience spanned across a number of industries including automotive, FMCG and classifieds, operating in both domestic and global markets.

Brown said she’s passionate about product development and improving the lives of everyday people through technology.

“I can see a real opportunity to help consumers navigate what is a complex property journey,” she said. “The impact that you can have on consumers and everyday Australians, is really high.”

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