Matthew Shadbolt is the Director of Internet Marketing for The Corcoran Group, Manhattan’s largest real estate brokerage.
Follow Matthew on Twitter at @corcoran_group
Over the past few years there’s been an explosive growth in the number of things marketers can do, especially online. Even the trusty banner ad seems to be in rapid decline. As the internet becomes more pervasive in our lives, to the point where the ‘internet enabled device’ (often called ‘the internet of things’) is ubiquitous, the implications for real estate professionals are potentially seismic. How will people look for homes in the future? By what’s around them? Through recommendations from their friends? Through ‘curated’ search results assembled for them by experts?
The simple answer is, of course, that nobody really knows. A lot of these technologies are still in their infancy. Five years ago most of us had never heard of checking-in or status updates, and tweeting was something for the birds (many maintain that it still is). The idea of a multi-touch device we’d have in our pockets that knew where we were all the time still seemed like science fiction. Yet we don’t think like that any more. Many of us have embraced this new technology as it becomes more user-friendly and a lot less about the nuts and bolts of ‘how it works’.
Here’s 3 emerging ways we’ll interact with the internet in the coming years.
1. Moving between devices will become easier and more a part of how we move around the real world.
Imagine you’re a train commuter who has a long commute each day. To pass the time you watch movies and TV shows on your iPad, streamed directly through Netflix. You arrive at your stop but you haven’t finished watching that oh-so-climactic episode of Lost. When you get home, your internet-enabled plasma screen will remember at what point you left the episode, and automatically pick up from where you left off, allowing you to finish watching the show seamlessly. This technology is here today.
What does this look like for real estate? Imagine you were in a certain area, browsing around a neighborhood you’re thinking of potentially moving to. Your smartphone could record places you were interested in, then allow you to download relevant local video and information based on where you were via your desktop or television when you got home. It’s an increasingly common phenomenon that people are watching the television and also online at the same time. The idea of these screens combining is something we’ll see a lot more of soon.
2. The internet will be built-in as a standard feature into the things around us
The idea of more devices that would be able to handle transactions, especially smartphones, is one that’s right around the corner. Square are already doing it, Google are talking a lot about it, and the concept of your phone replacing your credit card is here. An electronic device with a built in reader that would automatically recognize your location and offer you loyalty rewards for coming back to the store is something we see in the Foursquare and Facebook Places models as they attempt to redefine customer loyalty. Imagine a scenario where you’ve created an electronic version of your grocery list on your iPhone before you go to the store. Upon arrival, the store will recognize you as a return customer, optimize your route through the aisles, and show you featured products you might be interested in based on your interests and related purchases.
3. When we’re moving
The un-tethering of the internet from the big box that sits on your desk is increasing with rapid pace. Not just GPS directions, but using the internet to build out and enhance the driving or flying experience. The idea of ‘what’s around me now’ is already here for smartphone users who are walking around (its adoption rate in urban areas is much higher than in more rural parts of the country), but it hasn’t made it to the car yet. Of course, there are obvious safety concerns with anything that might cause distractions, but the idea of remote diagnostics, local information, or using your car essentially as a large smartphone with wheels is here today. What does this mean for real estate? Think guided open house tours, saved locations, voice-activated notes, and even record imagery (think Google Street View) of the surrounding area. Then once you got home you’d be able to transfer that information from ‘outside’ to any device.
In an uncertain future, what is certain is that the pace at which the technology formerly known as the web will continue to evolve and grow at an increasingly aggressive rate. Cutting through the noise and being able to deliver information that’s timely and valuable to users will be where many businesses will need to focus, especially real estate. Outside of sharing property information, what services could you potentially provide for these platforms?