If I were to ask 100 people how they watched the latest episode of “Sons of Anarchy” — or, better yet, how they viewed their most recent “CSI: Miami” second-season marathon — chances are I’d find a good number of folks who used an app on one of their devices.
Likewise, if I were to ask 100 people where they’d go to find out about properties for sale in their area, I can be confident that I’d hear a bunch of people say they used an app.
The fascinating part is, you’d only have to rewind four or five years to find an era where the answers to both of these questions would have been entirely different. And although the relationship between the content owner and end user are vastly different in these two scenarios, the distribution methods are similar and are drastically improving the way the consumers interact with each industry.
Let’s take a deeper look at how (and why) the real estate industry is adopting a new distribution model.
Publishers (then and now)
There was a time in recent history when nobody could accurately predict who would emerge as the frontrunner. Obviously, mainstays like realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Homefinder and Homes.com were amongst the favorites. Then came the obscure domains like LandAndFarm.com and GolfHomes.com. MLSs and real estate brokers couldn’t invest time thinking about, understanding or predicting which sites would perhaps yield the most traffic (leads) to their agents. This was all unfolding during some of the toughest economic conditions in recent history. Brokers “shotgunned” content in hopes of catching clients — this was an actual strategy. The majority of brokers opted to rely on companies like Point2 or ListHub to distribute (or syndicate) content to the long list of sites that would agree to publish it, all with the hope of attracting more and more eyeballs.
Today, the market is well-defined; the No. 1 site gets 57 percent more traffic than the No. 2 site … and 3,000 percent more than the No. 10 site. The preliminary bouts are over. The final heat is set. Period.
Successful MLSs and brokers are now beginning to migrate away from the long tail of traditional syndication and focus only on the sites that deliver value. According to one MLS CEO, “Over 66 percent of publishers haven’t delivered a single lead in the past year.”
Just like HBO figured out who was watching “Game of Thrones” and then found a way to connect with those viewers directly, savvy real estate organizations are doing the same. On the flip side, the content publishers have stepped up their game, giving the content owners valuable insights through control panels and detailed reporting.
Technology (then and now)
In addition to selecting sites where they would advertise content, MLSs and brokers were not equipped to manage the streams of data to each and every publisher. Simply put, the way companies used to send, receive, import, export and display data was complete madness — in addition to being quite expensive and challenging. Again, the syndication companies did a fantastic job of solving this problem, making it easy to build one stream, set it and forget it.
Today, however, there are natural ways to deploy and manage these flows along with progressive industry cooperation as it pertains to data sharing and data standards. These evolutions are good news for MLSs and brokers because, just like in any business, having direct control over the distribution and display of your most valuable asset is advantageous.
Consumers (then and now)
In the old days, way back in 2009, consumers (specifically real estate consumers) were drastically different. Today, they are all about one thing: instant gratification. That said, it is mission-critical for every real estate professional to provide relevant, up-to-date and accurate content to consumers, and provide it to them where they want it, when they want it.
We already know where they want it. By implementing an “a la carte” distribution model and connecting directly to the most effective publishers, MLSs and brokers are drastically increasing their performance as it pertains to accuracy and timeliness.
It’s tough to predict what information distribution will look like. It does appear to be heading in a particular direction, however, and it’s a course that will enhance the value of MLSs, brokers and agents across the country. …
And I like the sound of that.
Jeff Nieto is the Director of Special Projects for Clareity Security.