Technology

Now every listing can have its own dynamic video

Vendors creating 'on demand' videos for Homes.com, Redfin, ERA

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A new crop of tech vendors like VScreen, RealBiz Media Group and Onvedeo are offering listing portals, franchisors and brokerages an affordable option for creating videos for any listing “on demand,” meaning they’re always up-to-date and more engaging than previous attempts to automate the process.

Until recently, the most affordable option for creating real estate listing videos on a large scale was little more than a slideshow set to music, which proponents of video saw as a half-baked alternative.

Tech vendors have given automated listing videos a dynamic makeover, and are building spots on the fly that feature custom graphics, local information, and voice-overs — sometimes in multiple languages. Some augment pan-overs of still photographs with live-action video footage.

Today, Homes.com, the fourth most popular real estate site in the U.S., announced a partnership with VScreen to add dynamic, automated listing videos to the listings of its Homes.com Pro and Premier customers, representing approximately 140,000 listings.

Homes.com is the first large portal to offer these dynamic, up-to-date listing videos on a far-reaching scale.

When videos were built from mashed-together photos with little more than panning and scanning visual elements, they weren’t compelling to Homes.com, Jason Reinking, director of business development at Homes.com, told Inman News. VScreen’s dynamic videos enhance the consumer experience and compelled Homes.com to incorporate them on its site, he said.

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The VScreen-powered Homes.com listing videos will be created in real time based from the listing’s feed, whether directly from the broker or multiple listing service or through the distribution platform ListHub, Reinking said. The on-demand nature of the videos ensures that they’re always up-to-date, he said.

Dynamic, automated listing videos are the future."

VScreen pulls listing data like photos and home stats, sprinkles in relevant real-voice and video clips, and adds in info like mortgage rate, walkability and school info from a handful of data partners to make listing videos, said VScreen CEO Stephen Schweickart.

Other elements of the new Homes.com automatic listing videos include prominent listing agent contact information, days on market, comparisons with other listings nearby, and the median list and sale prices of nearby homes.


Sample VScreen-powered Homes.com listing video.

Links to the listing videos on Homes.com will show up on both search results and property detail pages, said Patty McNease, director of marketing at Homes.com.

Quality video increases almost every measure of online engagement, said Kristen Kraft, director of partnerships at the video hosting site Wistia. It motivates consumers to click a link at a higher rate, raises a site’s prominence in search engine search results and increases conversion.

Homes.com might be the first portal to implement this new brand of automatic listing video, but it’s not the first large real estate firm to do so.

RealBiz Media Group signed up ERA Real Estate to power “video microsites” for the franchisor’s listings last June. The videos, which display on a unique URL, are refreshed from a feed each night and include live voice-over and custom graphics, said Dan Skoglund, vice president of marketing at RealBiz.

RealBiz powers listing videos for a handful of brokerages, too, including Prudential Select Properties.

Skoglund says the firm has a library of 1,600 live voice-over scripts that it pieces together to fit the specific info in a listing. Clients have a choice of six different voices to choose from, he said — three male and three female.

A similar deal with ERA’s Realogy cousin, Century 21 Real Estate, is in the works, Skoglund said.

In March, RealBiz launched NestBuilder, a video-centric portal. Each night it creates videos for each of the active listings that brokers opt-in to send it through ListHub, Skoglund said. That’s from 30,000 to 120,000 listing videos refreshed per night, he said.

Seattle-based Redfin, which operates as a brokerage and referral site in 29 markets, has been creating on-demand automatic listing videos for nearly all of its listings since May 2013, said Jani Strand, Redfin’s vice president of communications.

The exception is listings represented by agents and brokers with Northwest MLS, which serves 21,000 members in the Pacific Northwest. Northwest MLS prohibits firms from modifying MLS photos, including the kind of minor cropping that occurs in some parts of automatic videos, said Kari Dilloo, director of public relations at Redfin.

The Redfin videos show up as links on each property detail page on the site. They also pop automatically up when a consumer scrolls to the end of a listing’s photo collection.

The videos don’t exist until the consumer presses play, said Rachel Eisenhauer, marketing manager at the firm that powers Redfin’s videos, SundaySky.

The SundaySky powered Redfin videos pull data straight from the MLS at the time the play button is pressed, ensuring that the data is as accurate as can be, Eisenhauer said. There’s a 0.2- to 0.5-second delay as the player pulls data before it plays, she said.

SundaySky, which was founded in 2007, came up with the idea for dynamic, on-demand videos from its work in building dynamic Web pages, Eisenhauer said.

The companies founders decided, “Let’s just do that for video,” she said.
A SundaySky-powered Redfin automatic listing video for a property on the market in Oakland, California.

“The videos allow consumers to see properties in a different, dynamic way,” Strand said. “The end product is beautiful.”

SundaySky powers automatic videos with its Smart Video technology for a number of other industries, including telecommunications and finance. The firm’s videos can include any type of information and pull data from anywhwere, Eisenhauer said. AT&T, for example, uses SundaySky to deliver video bills to some of its customers.

VScreen is SundaySky’s exclusive partner for real estate, Eisenhauer said. The Redfin deal is the only one that SundaySky has entered into directly with a real estate firm, she said.

VScreen is going big on rolling out the product to real estate. In April, it launched ListingVideos.com to bring the tech to brokers. Currently, 15 brokers are under contract for that new product, the firm’s CEO, Stephen Schweickart, said.

In September, San Francisco-based real estate startup Onvedeo won the “Dragon’s Den,” a startup pitch competition held by the Asian Real Estate Association of America in Los Angeles, with its on-demand, dynamic listing video product.

Onvedeo’s founder and CEO Boubou Guiro says the firm’s on the verge of announcing a deal with a large, national franchisor.


An automated, dynamic video produced by Onvedeo.

“Dynamic, automated listing videos are the future,” Guiro said.

Onvedeo has a simple goal, Guiro said: to put a video on every single listing.

The firm started out as a marketplace to connect brands, brokers and agents with local filmmakers, but pivoted when it became clear that it would be too expensive to put videos on each listing if they were made by filmmakers. That’s when the startup began developing its automated video technology, Guiro said.

Onvedeo sets itself apart from other tech providers by providing clips of live video in the videos it creates. Like snippets of live voiceovers, Onvedeo has a library of short video clips of cities and has a goal to get to the neighborhood level, Guiro said.

Onvedeo videos aren’t made on-demand when a user clicks play, but can be, Guiro said. The videos are revised each time a change is made to the listing, he said.

The firm also offers voiceovers in multiple languages including English, Spanish, Chinese Mandarin and French Canadian.

By the end of 2014, Onvedeo wants to tap big data to personalize each video for the person watching it, Guiro said. That’s the next step for dynamic videos, he said.

For example, if a homebuyer is likely to have children, Guiro envisions tailoring videos to emphasize school attendance info, school ratings and Walk Scores. Videos could also serve up mortgage information tailored to each viewer’s circumstances.