NEW YORK — Google’s recent refinements in the real estate space — which include creating "place pages" for individual listings — don’t mean the search-engine giant is moving to create a national multiple listing service, the company says.
But the refinements have improved the quality of traffic the search engine delivers to advertisers — including big brokerages that Google is out to sign up as clients, said Sam Sebastian, the company’s director of local and business-to-business markets.
In a one-on-one discussion with Inman News founder and publisher Bradley Inman at Real Estate Connect New York, Sebastian said it’s his job to help big brokerages make the most out of what Google has to offer.
"Agents have always been pretty engaged" in buying keywords and targeted ads from Google to drive traffic to their Web sites, Sebastian said. "But the big brokerages that can really do this in scale, and work this into their marketing programs — that’s where I think the future is."
Since Google got into targeted advertising, agents and small real estate offices have been "very entrepreneurial" in taking advantage of its ability to deliver potential clients, Sebastian said.
"They could compete with the big boys, and we were building a good set of users," Sebastian said. Then third-party listing aggregation sites emerged, packaging and selling the leads traffic to their sites generated to brokers and agents.
Google got into the listing game itself, through its Google Base service, which accepts listings from agents and third-party aggregators.
Aggregating listings is not nearly as controversial as it was when third-party aggregators started cropping up more than a decade ago, Sebastian said.
But Google has captured the attention of the real estate industry in recent months by creating individual "place pages" for listings and making it easy to find them in map-based searches (see story). …CONTINUED