At Real Estate Connect in January this year, the buzz was all about “rich” media: video, 3-D, and other visual or interactive content that dazzles buyers and pulls them deeper into the purchase funnel. The problem is, today’s online real estate marketplace doesn’t allow agents to use rich media to its fullest potential.

Most listing portals currently provide true integration only for photos — video, 3-D and other innovative marketing tools are relegated to clunky links and other workarounds. Why does this matter? Because the first rule of successful online marketplaces is this: Don’t let the buyer leave your site.

I know this idea doesn’t sit well with some agents; many would prefer to redirect buyers from a portal site to their own site. I understand that desire, especially where Zillow and Trulia are concerned. After all, it’s pretty frustrating to see another agent getting top billing next to your listing.

But here’s the problem: Links, workarounds and redirects make things complicated. And complication is bad for conversion.

This is true for several reasons. A complicated process creates a less enjoyable user experience, takes longer and involves more steps where things can go wrong (broken links and server timeouts, anyone?). Conversion is highest, by contrast, when users enjoy the shopping process, can quickly and easily find the information they want, and don’t encounter any disconnects or hiccups.

So although it may seem advantageous to redirect buyers to your website, in reality, this reduces both the quality and quantity of leads. A better approach is for the portals to offer true rich media integration, which will provide you with a better return on investment (ROI) on both the money you’ve invested in rich media and the money you’re investing in leads.

The jury is still out on 3-D, largely because it’s such a new technology, but there’s plenty of research showing how video improves marketing ROI. When we’re talking specifically about online marketplaces such as listing portals, the data is simply overwhelming.

Consider these key stats:

In short, integrating video — not just linking to it — is good for the portals and good for agents. Put another way, if online is the new curbside, video doesn’t just keep people from driving away — it prompts them to park and come inside.

So how do we, as an industry, make video integration happen? Most of the push will have to come from agents. You are the portals’ customers and their primary source of income. If you speak up, they have to listen.

Content creators play a role, too. At HouseLens, for instance, we’re looking into creating an open application programming interface to make it easy for portals and other websites to integrate our content. This kind of collaboration can help remove some of the excuses from the equation.

And then the portals have to be willing to step into the 21st century. As Rupert Murdoch said at ICNY, the portals “have to be better.” With all the disruption happening in the portal sector — News Corp.’s acquisition of, the Zillow-Trulia merger, the emergence of broker-backed portals — the time is ripe for someone to step in front and take the lead on rich media integration.

David Greenberg is chief revenue officer for HouseLens, the nation’s largest provider of full-motion walk-through video tours for real estate listings.

Email David Greenberg.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription