• Many in the industry are losing sight of what kind of marketing works amidst the vitriol against listing portal giant Zillow

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

I’m not going out on a limb by saying there’s a significant portion of the real estate industry that doesn’t like Zillow.

While I can understand the discontent, Zillow isn’t your enemy.

Far from it.

At Connect last week, CEO Spencer Rascoff gave audience members some very insightful marketing advice.

As reported by Teke Wiggin, in his talk about how to avoid being a “have-not agent,” Rascoff mentioned agent should “buy online exposure.”

01/27/16 Inman Connect. Photography by Jenna Bascom

01/27/16 Inman Connect. Photography by Jenna Bascom

The knee-jerk assumption could easily be that his recommendation is a thinly veiled pitch to buy a Premier Membership and dump every cent of your marketing budget into the Zillow coffers.

As a CEO, it would be well within his right to use such an influential stage to make that kind of appeal.

While I can understand the discontent, Zillow isn’t your enemy.

But that was only part of what he meant.

Paid online advertising can help build agents a powerful Internet brand.

Free content marketing is effective, but its impact may be dwindling.

A few of weeks ago on Inman.com, Gill South covered Buyers Brokers Only, a Boston-based firm that invests heavily in content marketing. They use Hubspot as their marketing platform.

The company has built a perpetual stream of useful content and made a very intelligent decision to work with a technology partner.

However, in essence, Buyers Brokers Only is following Rascoff’s advice: they’re buying online exposure.

Rascoff’s comment is also much more prescient than most may realize.

I encourage agents who take their marketing seriously to read “The Consumer Isn’t a Moron,” from Medium.com. It’s about the rise of frequency interference within the free content marketing realm.

Consumers are always listening, but what are we giving them to hear? Everyone is shouting at the same time.

Well before I started this column, I told friends in the real estate industry that they are not beholden to Zillow. Marketing there is not a requirement of your license.

Zillow is a company that responded to a increasingly needy pitch from the consumer for more real estate information. They heard them before almost all of us.

For this they should be commended. Look at what the company has done for the industry.

The real estate industry is not beholden to Zillow.

The other world I exist in, the outdoor recreation industry, celebrates its Zillow in Backcountry.com.

This powerful online source for gear, apparel and insight has opened up the Internet for niche brands and manufacturers known only to an obscure, deeply-core audience.

This weekend, Marmot, a one-time little known manufacturer named after a noisy mountain rodent, will advertise during the Super Bowl.

For an outdoor brand not named The North Face (owned by the giant VF Corporation), this is a huge deal.

Employees of Patagonia, REI and Cascade Designs will communally celebrate the $5 million spot.

Zillow has made it possible for real estate companies to break the surface, to emerge from the tightly-wound MLS underworld.

I’m not saying that success in today’s real estate industry requires advertising on Zillow.

I am saying that it’s probably time the pitchforks be given time to dull.

And that you aim to emulate a noisy mountain rodent.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.

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