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The Flip Side of the Bad Data Debate Cont. The Agent’s Fault…

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emortgageprocreditWrecking Listing Data’s Good Name?

After some intense debate both on and offline about how third party media companies are wrecking the listing data’s GOOD name, we set out to find out some reasons that data inaccuracies seem to be common place on third party websites.  We wanted to know how in the world it could be possible that sites like Zillow, Trulia, Vast, among others could possibly still reflect a listing as active when the unit had obviously sold weeks, days, months, or even a year ago. Seriously, how could this be?

In a perfect world

In case you did not know, data is typically taken directly from brokers via one huge file dump, and then distributed to the third party network as it’s seen.  So if today you post a property as pending, then more than likely, 24 hours later after distribution, your listing should reflect the new pending status. Makes sense, right? Clean data comes from the source and is updated dynamically via the same feed the original listing came from – no problem… in a perfect world, this is what happens.

So again, where’s the problem? We set a course to find out. We asked David Gibbons with Zillow exactly about the process and he verified that data comes from the broker’s direct feed (you should ask your broker if they syndicate) and populates Zillow.  So we asked David how in the world is could ever be possible that a listing could remain active when it had been withdrawn, expired, etc and his response? Ultimately, time and time again, it goes back to the agent who syndicated the listing.

WHAT?!

Yes, you read that correctly, but note that he said “agent who syndicated the listing.” If your broker does not update or syndicate feeds to Zillow, chances are that your virtual tour company, or possibly your flyer company does, and this is an accepted feed from Zillow and a service that many vendors offer agent consumers.  The main problem with this is that the agent allows the virtual tour to remain in existence, ACTIVE and alive for the world to see, long after the listing is gone. David Gibbons admits this has been a real challenge for them, but believes it goes back to agent education and some training where syndication is concerned.

Let me Google that for you

David suggests that you Google your listing address when changing the status of your listing. This will allow you to see everywhere your listing is populating and if need be, go in and turn it off or change the status.

Check, check, one, two

Our suggestion to build on that thought is to create a closing checklist of where you manually displayed your listing- that gives you a quick and easy reference of places that you’ve been the point of syndication (P.O.S.).  Make note of each web property you’re using that offers to syndicate for you, “especially virtual tour companies,” says David.

Like we said, David admits that this has been a challenge for them, to the point that they rank the level and quality of a syndication source on the back end, but this method could ultimately be double checked by the responsible agent who probably isn’t even aware of their culpability. David points out that many sites and tools that syndicate for agents do notify agents requesting an update, but not all, and most notices go ignored either because the agent continues to show off their incredible marketing, or they simply forget- so make your checklist for those closed, sold, and withdrawn properties and protect the data that agents hold so dearly.

Summary

So if you’re a great listing agent and you’re making sure your marketing goes up, we must make sure it comes down, as displaying an inactive non-existent for sale property in anyone’s book is unethical. We suggest that if you want to display a demo of your property marketing, you utilize the product’s demo or ask the company to copy a demo of a past listing that is syndicated with the proper status for you.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Megan Lust

    April 1, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I agree with David Gibbons. A lot of times agents aren’t sure where they’ve had their listing syndicated to, or they forget where they’ve manually added listings online. That’s the beauty of having listings syndicate directly from an MLS. Agents and Brokers are sure to keep their listings updated at the MLS level, knowing that any marked sold will then be removed from syndication. If an MLS syndicates to a large network of syndication partners, then the likelihood of agents needing to enter listings at various websites manually would surely lessen.

    • Benn Rosales

      April 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

      from an mls, or from realtor.com, either way, the data would be back in control of the industry at the very least, standards met, and end debate. 3parties could then pay to play, which is how it should have been from the start – agents are paying the carrying cost of 3rd parties, why not recoop that loss and make realtor.com free.

  2. Michael Sosnowski

    April 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    How about this….don’t provide any information to Zillow, Trulia, etc and work on creating the best web presence for you own website. All these big sites do is eat up space in the local SERPs – providing little or no value to agents. Just a thought.

    • Benn Rosales

      April 1, 2010 at 8:24 pm

      Good luck getting that cat back in that tiny bag, I’ll be watching with interest.

  3. Brian Rutledge

    April 1, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Michael, you bring up a good point. What many agents don’t realize is how easy it is to outrank those sites for your listings. A small investment in an affordable indexable IDX+a few hours a week of linking, tweeting and facebooking will have you outranking the syndicators in no time.

  4. Benn Rosales

    April 1, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    We can argue 2005-10 points of view and we can also take responsibility for the data we’re syndicating at the same time. Agents cannot continue to complain about bad data if they’re responsible for syndicating it.

  5. Michael Sosnowski

    April 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Yes, the cat is out of the bag. It is truly a same how little agents really know about marketing on the web and the future of online real estate. Nonetheless, I would really like to know, from agents. how many clients and potential clients are looking for homes on websites like…..Vast, Oodle, Frontdoor, Cyberhomes, HotPads and all those who are similar. The fact is, very, very few. We have sold our souls to realtor.com, tulia and zillow, but can we at least draw the line on these ^%$#* sites! Must we support every online venture that “claims to offer” exposure? We build these sites up out of fear and ignorance.

    I will not get off the soap box.

  6. David Gibbons

    April 7, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Hi Ben,

    Listing websites operate like the MLS in this regard; if you post a listing for sale online it remains advertised until it’s taken down. Syndication services add some complexity in that they propagate listings to multiple sites but all that’s required to update syndicated listings is that you update the source. If virtual tours are left posted online after a home is sold, the agent is effectively continuing to advertise the listing (regardless of whether it’s syndicated.)

    Syndicating your data (in this case, listings) is a smart online marketing strategy. The trick is to do it responsibly and efficiently. My recommendations for listing agents are:
    1) Use as few syndication services as possible and use only one such service for each site that you want to publish your listings on. That way, you know where to go when you need a syndicated listing updated.
    2) Ask your technology provider for your website / virtual tour / MLS / single property website etc. whether they plan to syndicate your listings. Have them switch this feature off if they aren’t the single syndication source you’ve selected.
    3) Update the source of your listings whenever you update the MLS – that way you won’t forget. Better yet; speak to your MLS to determine whether they could be your syndication source (or whether they could partner with one.)

    I hope that helps.

  7. David Gibbons

    April 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    P.S. Sorry, I obviously meant Benn

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Social Media

Could TikTok soon be banned in the U.S for privacy breaching?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) TikTok, a video content social media giant, has been deemed a potential national security risk by the U.S Federal government.

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TikTok is banned

U.S lawmakers are calling for a full investigation into TikTok, the fifteen second video app with almost 180 million downloads, after expressing concerns of a privacy breach by the Chinese government.

TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, purchased the platform originally known as musical.ly in November 2017. Since then the social media app worth an estimated $150 billion has almost 180 million downloads in the U.S, and 800 million downloads worldwide.

According to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the U.S has reason to believe the Beijing-based company, ByteDance, may have been coerced into handing over data to China’s communist leaders. The app’s Founder, Zhang Yiming, and TikTok’s spokesperson responded to the accusations with the following statement: “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

We don’t know if we believe you TikTok.

TikTok received over 500 legal demands, including emergency requests, in the first six months of 2020. TikTok has also previously confirmed that the app stores user data on “U.S-based servers” withdrawn from phone downloads. Information includes IP addresses, messages, location information, and according to Pompeo, “sensitive information”, exposed by data breaching that disregards American rights to privacy and potentially violates national security guidelines.

Company employees may live in the U.S, but with its head of operations stationed in Beijing, pressure from the Chinese Government to provide user information is a very serious concern for Americans using the app. 41 percent of its users are part of Generation Z, a highly influential, social media-friendly age group, ranging between 16 and 24.

A sense of invincibility within this age range encourages users to use the app without caution of personal information that may be provided or derived off your phone after installation. In the past two years, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have also been criticized for not abiding to lawful privacy standards.

ByteDance has halted the use of its corporate office in Beijing and is looking to establish headquarters within the U.S or under new management.

The U.S. government is seriously considering banning the use of TikTok.

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Facebook’s Hobbi app was a complete flop

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook seemingly has enough money to throw away projects and apps they know will fail. Hobbi is their most recent flop.

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Facebook failed Hobbi

Due to its abysmal underperformance on the App Store, Facebook is killing their new app, Hobbi, just months after its rollout in February.

Hobbi was the brainchild of Facebook’s New Product Experimentation Team, whose stated purpose is to rapidly ideate, build, and launch experimental new apps – then pull them if they aren’t successful.

Hobbi was designed to help users document their progress on their various personal projects and, well, hobbies. Complaints centered primarily on its threadbare feature offerings. Notably, Hobbi does not allow its users to browse the works of other creators through the app- it only packages media like photos and videos for sharing elsewhere.

A post on the Tech@Facebook blog states that they “expect many failures” from the NPE Team, suggesting that Hobbi was not necessarily intended to last. But you have to wonder… what is supposed to be the point of a tool like this?

Stories are a popular feature on most major social media websites, including Facebook itself. And Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) already allows its users to curate and group posts about whatever they want, including personal projects, hobbies and interests, through their story highlights.

So Facebook created a product that was already made redundant by their existing properties. What is experimental about that, exactly?

Hobbi originally drew comparisons to Pinterest. Both are like digital scrapbooks; Pinterest is a platform for content that inspires creativity, and Hobbi creates progress reports for creative undertakings.

One could also compare Hobbi to the underperforming video streaming platform, Quibi, which recently became infamous for its ostentatious ad campaign, aggressively flaunted celebrity cameos, and ultimately, its overwhelming failure.

Jeffery Katzenberg, Quibi cofounder of Disney and Dreamworks fame, blamed the coronavirus pandemic for Quibi’s flop – a questionable claim, considering just how much free time many have had to binge Netflix’s Tiger King during the lockdown.

The same could be said about Hobbi. People have been taking on projects like crazy in the time that has Hobbi been on the market. Quarantine cabin fever has us baking, crafting, painting, cleaning, and redecorating like never before. Yet Hobbi went nearly untouched.

Nobody used it because nobody needed it. Surely some cursory research would have demonstrated this?

One conclusion is that the app itself was the research – that Facebook’s NPE team isn’t really creating finished products, but rather testing the waters for potential new ones. (Could this framing be an elegant form of damage control, though? It’s easier to say “I meant to do that!” than it is to admit failure, especially in business.)

Still, creating throwaway apps in a bloated industry feels like cheating, whether it was meant for research purposes or not. There are plenty of indie app developers who create great tools with way less funding. Filling app marketplaces with lemons makes it harder for folks to find those gems.

Either way, hopefully we will see some original ideas coming from Facebook’s NPE Team moving forward, because this was clearly a disappointment.

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Can Twitter ever secure data privacy, like even once?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter releases private information affecting already hurting businesses, should this even be a surprise anymore? They have a history of privacy breaches.

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twitter privacy

Dear Twitter,

I don’t know if you’ve seen the news within the past two years, but Facebook’s been under continuous scrutiny for privacy malpractices that affected millions of its users, so unless your goal is to be the next social network to infringe upon our first amendment right to privacy, I suggest you GET IT TOGETHER!

Over the weekend, users, specifically businesses, realized their billing information was being stored in their browsers cache. This is devastating news for business owners who rely on Twitter to promote their product, or stay in touch with their customers, who over the recent months have already faced monumental challenges. It is hard as a business owner to not feel this is an intentional overreach of privacy.

In an age where we have actual robots to vacuum our floors, and 3D printing, I speak for the people when I say this is unacceptable.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has been caught privacy breaching. A little over a year ago, Twitter announced that they were fixing a bug, many weren’t even aware of, that released phone numbers, location, and other personal data. AND GET THIS, even those who selected the option to keep their information private were affected, so what the hell is the point of asking us our preference in the first place?!!!

What about the time that Twitter accounts could be highjacked by ISIS and used to spread propaganda? All because Twitter didn’t require an email confirmation for account access. Or what about when Twitter stored your passwords in plaintext instead of something easily more secure. Flaws like these show a distinct ability of Twitter to just half ass things; to make it work, but not think about how to keep the users safe.

Like I said in the beginning, get it together Twitter.

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