There’s an old argument in the real estate industry that you’ve probably heard – listing data is aggregated by real estate search sites like Zillow, which makes big bucks on that free firehose of data, but doesn’t send a cut of said profits back to the content providers (and should).
This conversation is being revisited after Facebook’s announcement that they’re going to restructure how data flows. Just as publishers are asking why Facebook doesn’t pay for content, the real estate industry is again asking – why is the data real estate professionals produce aggregated for someone else’s financial benefit?
Media mogul and Executive Chairman of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch, issued a press release outlining his urgent belief that Facebook and other media giants should pay publishers for their content, rather than benefiting from the content, keeping the profit to themselves, and padding their stock prices. This comes at a rather interesting time, given many media giants are changing they way the game is played: YouTube is causing a bit of a stir with their top contributors, Facebook has vowed to get back to their roots, and it won’t be long before other social media and marketing sites follow suit.
Amidst these changes, though, where are the benefits for the content creators?
There are influencers on YouTube that promote new products; Facebook and Twitter users who supply endless amounts of content from which other companies/brands benefit, and to apply this to real estate, Zillow, Trulia, and others who aggregate brokers’ content into their platforms and benefit tremendously. It’s shrewd business.
This is especially frustrating when you consider, as Murdoch points out, “publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity [of the platform] through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services.” Realtors® create data for aggregators by listing properties in the MLS, then, they are charged to be showcased on the very platforms already utilizing and profiting from the information that has been provided for free.
While Realtors® may have been paid for their listing by their client, they have not been provided a percentage of any search site’s profits, which is the primary argument Murdoch makes to Facebook.
Murdoch proposes a fee structure to remedy this issue, much in the same way cable is structured, whereby publishers would be compensated for their contributions, but it isn’t clear how this would work long-term, although it is food for thought about who really owns data.
According to Murdoch, “The time has come to consider a different route. If Facebook [or any other media giant] wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers, then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies. The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.”
In other words, real estate search sites should be paying broker for using the data they provide, instead of charging for extra bells and whistles in the name of marketing. Even if the real estate search site is one of Murdoch’s own…