Foxtons Does Automated Vodcasts

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What I love about blogging is sometimes the real gems I find come from the comments readers place on my posts.

In my recent post on video podcasting, I speculated how a raw “video river” of a broker’s or agent’s listings doesn’t really serve consumer’s needs very well and that for video podcasting (‘vodcasting’) to be an effective way of delivering listings, there needs to be a way to filter those results by neighborhood or through a customized property search.

Sure enough, someone’s already doing it.

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Foxtons, an estate agency based in the U.K. that’s already on the cutting edge of real estate marketing, are now delivering web feeds of properties for sale in London and Surrey from Foxtons estate agents.

Using their site, home buyers can filter all their listings by area and price range and subscribe to an XML feed of the results – but here’s the kicker. You can choose if you want to receive text, audio and even video versions of the listings to appear in your news reader.

What’s neat is how they do this. The podcasts or vodcasts are dynamically generated for every listing in Foxtons’ inventory. The video is a slide show of the property photos and the audio is just the listing description read by computer voice generation software.

Check out this example of properties in Surrey up to £250,000.

The videos don’t have the impact of a true video walkthru – but being that it’s automatically created, I guess you can’t really complain. Overall, it’s been a pretty successful approach for Foxtons. According to the comment the video versions are 4x more popular than the audio versions, which doesn’t really surprise me. I’m not sure I could listen to that computer voice for very long without the accompanying visuals.

Which brings me to the only other weird thing I found with this setup. Listening to British property descriptions being read in an American accent. Seemed a little out of wack to me.

This approach is definitely bleeding edge stuff. But a good example of how, with some creativity, you can push the marketing envelope a little bit. Anyone State-side thinking of doing this?

Will we be seeing this feature on Foxtons USA soon?