What to do when digital advertising no longer works

Victor H /

How would the real estate industry change if its online paid advertising models no longer worked? There’s a tremendous transformation taking place that will fundamentally alter how you will do business in the very near future. What can you do to be prepared?

Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal’s ad chief, described the situation facing the advertising industry today in a Wall Street Journal article: “We have a problem. I know it; you know it; we all know it.”

The article went on to explain: “Ad executives are grappling with challenges in measuring consumer behavior across traditional and digital media platforms, as well as increased ad blocking, viewability, and fraud issues.”

Consumers are unhappy about slow load times on their devices, being constantly bombarded with unwelcome website ads and having hundreds of tracking cookies invading their privacy and mucking up their online experience.

This situation will only be made worse if the dire predictions about the effect of eliminating net neutrality become a reality.

Three primary forces that are hastening this considerable shakeup include browser level ad blocking, chatbots and an increasing need to have more “analog” experiences.

Blocking at the browser level

I’m head-over-heels-in-love with Brave ( Do you have any idea how great it is to surf the net and to at last be free of slow loads, annoying ads, tracking cookies and being taken to unencrypted sites (HTTP vs. HTTPS) that can expose you to malware and phishing schemes?

I’ve been using Brave as my browser for one week, and here are my stats for my laptop.

Multiplying those numbers by three (for my laptop, iPhone and iPad), Brave has blocked almost 9,000 trackers and 4,000 unwanted ads for me in a single week.

Because the ad-free and cookie blocking results in such a superior web experience, I’ve stopped using about 90 percent of my apps (where the ads and tracking all still exist) in favor of accessing the company or the product’s main website through the Brave browser coupled with Google search.

Chatbots will soon make your website and your apps obsolete

In early 2017, Facebook outlined its massive commitment to partnering with outside developers to create chatbots for Facebook messenger.

A chatbot is a computer program that simulates a conversation with human users over the internet using a chat interface.

Facebook’s vision is that chatbots will become so ubiquitous that you will use them to share information about an upcoming elementary school soccer game, curate news that you find to be interesting, as well as in hundreds of other places every day.

Facebook’s click-to-messenger ads are a stepping stone to full interactivity with a bot that can convert the lead for you.

Nate Dadosky outlined this process in detail in an Inman article, however, it boils down to the consumer still being required to click on an ad on your Facebook business page and receiving a customized “quick reply” from you, which will also trigger a notification to you so you can follow up in real time.

Three real estate chatbots have already stepped beyond what Facebook is offering. “Aisa Holmes” (’s “artificial intelligence Inside Sales Agent”), Automabots ( and

Each of these chatbots convert the lead for you on the spot. Here’s what the process looks like on the Holmes chatbot:

Not only is the lead converted, but the appointment is also scheduled!

Matt Schlicht, the CEO of Octane AI, said in Chatbots Magazine that if “messaging apps become the number one way people communicate, then every business is going to need a way to engage on these platforms. This means that every business will eventually need to have a bot.”

Because bots load instantaneously, they are faster than websites and mobile apps. More importantly, chatbots will be the easiest technology to use because all you will have to do is talk to the bot.

The result will be websites and mobile apps will become obsolete, and in the process, will eventually kill off today’s advertising models.

Our love affair with digital is over

In a New York Times article, David Sax proclaimed that “Our love affair with digital is over.”

Sax argued that our digital lives are balanced by our “analog” lives. Sales of print books have increased for the past three years, 200,000 vinyl records sell every week and sales of paper notebooks, board games and Broadway tickets are showing growth.

Sax also observed that in contrast to virtual online communities, analog actually contributes to the real places where we live.

“Like the hardware store, Italian grocer and butcher on the same block, the brick and mortar presence of June adds to my neighborhood’s sense of place … and gives me a feeling of belonging.”

He continues, “Analog excels at encouraging human interaction, which is crucial to our physical and mental well-being.”

What can you do to get an edge in this rapidly changing environment where digital advertising may no longer be as effective? Here are four suggestions.

1. Integrate digital and analog

Real estate is still a face-to-face business; however, the new tech tools can greatly enhance your ability to convert leads and provide better customer service.

As Rich Barton, co-founder and executive chairman of Zillow observed at Inman Connect in January: For years, real estate practitioners have worried that technology will replace them. It hasn’t happened: “All AI is an enhancement, not a replacement for the agent.”

The chatbots described above are only the first wave of what’s coming — be an early adopter.

2. Ditch impressions and other outbound marketing strategies

Getting your name out there doesn’t work very well when people are being bombarded with thousands of ads every day.

Instead, double down on collecting testimonials and growing your sphere through inbound marketing — referrals. Capture these on video, and share them across the social media.

To market your business, create fun videos about your listings, the neighborhood or anything else that makes people laugh that could go viral.

3. Be ruthless about tracking your online advertising ROI

Look at your digital and your print marketing ad spends each month. If you are not seeing conversions into closed transactions, spend your money elsewhere!

4. Stop worrying about the robot apocalypse

According to The Wall Street Journal, you don’t need to worry about the robot apocalypse eliminating your job anytime soon.

Instead, all you need to do is to “close the door.” It seems robots are unable to open an unlocked door, much less a locked one.

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at and