How Coldwell Banker Real Estate conquered YouTube

Franchisor's 'On Location' YouTube channel is most watched, with 7.7M views to date

Coldwell Banker Real Estate’s brand-defining video endeavor started with a budget cut.

Five years ago, in the depths of the housing downturn, the Realogy-owned brand was looking for a way to engage consumers on a streamlined budget.

Screen shot of agent video by Jessica Edwards, of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Screen shot of agent video by Jessica Edwards, of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Coldwell Banker — which has approximately 85,000 affiliated agents in 3,100 offices worldwide — launched its “On Location” YouTube video channel in the spring of 2009. Today, the channel boasts over 40,000 videos and the largest video presence of any brand in the industry.

“Video has become a part of everything we do,” David Marine, vice president of brand engagement at Coldwell Banker, told Inman News.

In September, Coldwell Banker aired a 15-day “International Film Festival” that showcased 10 winners of a contest that invited filmmakers to show what they considered the value of home to be. In January, the brand debuted its 2014 consumer ad campaign with a TV ad that aired during the Grammys that was set to Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.”

Coldwell Banker’s YouTube channel has given the brand a way to express its voice and perspective in a way no other brand does, Marine said.

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Other brands maintain YouTube channels, too. But Coldwell Banker’s has been the most popular, generating 7.7 million views to date, according to YouTube.

Slideshows are not a substitute for real video."

By comparison, Re/Max LLC, Keller Williams Realty and Century 21 Real Estate’s YouTube channels have generated 4 million views, 2.1 million views and 1.2 million views, respectively.

Coldwell Banker’s YouTube channel also gives the brand content to share across its social media channels, Marine said.

In the beginning, the firm tried to direct consumers to the channel. That didn’t work so well, Marine said. So now, the firm incorporates the videos into its social media channels, exposing them on every platform it can.


Agent videos, like this light-hearted one from Jessica Edwards, an agent with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage in Wilmington, North Carolina, can be found in Coldwell Bankers’ “On Location” YouTube channel. 

“On Location” also includes a map-based video-search platform that allows users to search for listing videos on the channel by location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and price, Marine said.

ColdwellBanker-video-search
Screen shot of Coldwell Bankers’ “On Location” YouTube channel video-search tool for the San Francisco Bay Area.

The search feature also surfaces other types of location-specific Coldwell Banker “On Location” content, including agent videos, office videos, community videos and videos from Coldwell Banker’s international wing, Coldwell Banker Previews.

The system is set up to collect Coldwell Banker videos automatically.

When a Coldwell Banker-affiliated agent or broker uploads a listing that includes a video to Coldwell Banker’s intranet site, for example, it’s automatically included in Coldwell Banker’s “On Location” channel.

The channel also pulls in videos automatically from Coldwell Banker agents and offices when they post to their own YouTube channels.

Lessons learned

From its experience with the over 200,000 videos that have been included in the “On Location” channel, Coldwell Banker has learned that doing video well is not easy, Marine said. It takes time and dedication.

However, there are some basic lessons the brand has learned that lead to better videos, Marine said.

Lessons Coldwell Banker has learned for producing video

Video Elements How do incorporate them successfully
Length Short listing videos, about 60 seconds, are much more likely to be watched to completion.
Live-action Including live-action video greatly increases engagement.
Perfection Don’t worry about making a video perfect. Even less-than-perfect videos can be valuable to consumers and build a brand.

Source: David Marine, vice president of brand engagement at Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.

Keep listing videos short, Marine said. Consumers are more likely to view a listing video to completion the closer its length is to 60 seconds, he said.

The firm has also found that there’s no substitute for live-action video.

“Slideshows are not a substitute for real video,” Marine said.

In one study, the firm found that audience retention was 15 percent higher for live-action video than for videos that just included slideshows.

It’s not that videos have to be 100 percent live-action, however. As long as an agent appears on video for even a brief time before a slideshow it helps with engagement, Marine said.

In January 2013, Coldwell Banker signed a deal with automated video-creation platform Videolicious to help a subset of the brand’s agents create videos easily. The firm has since expanded that deal to provide the tool to all the brand’s agents around the world, Marine said.

Videolicious gives agents the option to film short live-action segments to place around a slideshow video, a feature Coldwell Banker has been coaching its agents to utilize, Marine said.

One of Marine’s favorite “On Location” videos from the channel’s first five years is the winner of the firm’s “Real Estate Life, Camera, Action YouTube Contest,” from last September.


“This is Home” took home top prize in Coldwell Banker’s “Life, Camera, Action” video contest. 

Another of Marine’s favorite videos is by Mike Randall, an agent with Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Properties in Florence, Alabama, who, at the end of a traditional listing video, calmly walked into the home’s backyard pool.

Marine also cited the Coldwell Banker-produced “Most Expensive Home” series as among his favorite videos.

Marine says that some agents hesitate to do video because they want to make it perfect. A little courage and a willingness to make mistakes will go a long way in helping agents and brokerage offices embrace video as an important element their marketing plans, he said.


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