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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  So we asked David how in the world is could ever be possible that a listing could remain active when it had been withdrawn, expired, etc and his response?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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Instagram announces 3 home feed options, including chronological order

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Instagram is allowing users to choose how their home feed appears so they can tailor their own experience… and chronological is back!

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Instagram home feed options

Break out the bottle of champagne, because they are bringing back the chronological order in Instagram!

About time, right? Well, that’s not all. Per Protocol, Instagram has announced that they are rolling out three feed options in the first half of 2022. What?! Yes, you read that right.

3 New Feed View Options

  1. Home: This feed view should feel familiar because it’s the algorithm you already use. No changes to this view.
  1. Favorites: This feed view option presents a nice and tidy way to view creators, friends, and family of your choosing.
  1. Following: Last, but not least, is my favorite re-boot, the chronological view of every account that you follow.

Per Protocol, recent legal allegations have been made that Instagram and Facebook have been prioritizing content viewed as harmful in the algorithm and specifically in Instagram. Instagram is widely believed to be harmful to teens. Per the American Psychological Association, “Studies have linked Instagram to depression, body image concerns, self-esteem issues, social anxiety, and other problems”.  They have been under scrutiny by lawmakers and in response are posing the chronological feed as a solution.

However, this won’t fix everything. Even if the algorithm isn’t prioritizing harmful posts, those posts will still exist and if that account is followed it can still be seen. The other issue with this solution is the knowledge that unless Instagram lets you choose your default feed view, they could still cause the algorithm view to be the automatic view. Facebook doesn’t allow you to make the chronological feed your default view. This means you would need to choose that view every time. This bit of friction means there will be times it is overlooked and some may not even know the functionality exists. Knowing this information about Facebook, prepares us for what’s to come with Instagram. After all, Facebook, or Meta, owns both.

While as an entrepreneur, the chronological view excites me, I know the reality of it being used is questionable. I would love to know others can see the products and services I offer instead of hoping that Instagram finds my content worthy to share in the algorithm.

As a human being with a moral conscience, I have to scream, “C’mon Instagram, you CAN do better!” We all deserve better than having a computer pick what’s shown to us. Hopefully, lawmakers will recognize this band-aid quick fix for what it truly is and continue with making real changes to benefit us all.

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Facebook’s targeting options for advertising are changing this month

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Do you market your business on Facebook? You need to know that their targeting options for ads are changing and what to do about it.

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Laptop on lap open to Facebook page representing ad targeting.

Meta is transforming Facebook’s ad campaigns beginning January 19th. Facebook, which has been infamously battling criticism regarding election ads on their platform, is revising its limited targeting ad campaigns. Per this Facebook blog post, these changes eliminate the ability to target users based on interactions with content related to health (e.g., “Lung cancer awareness”, “World Diabetes Day”), race and ethnicity, political affiliation, religious practices (e.g., “Catholic Church” and “Jewish holidays”) and sexual orientation (e.g., “same-sex marriage” and “LGBT culture”).

These changes go into effect on January 19, 2022. Facebook will no longer allow new ads to use these targeting tools after that date. By March 17, 2022, any existing ads using those targeting tools will no longer be allowed.

The VP of Ads and Business Product Marketing at Facebook, Graham Mudd, expressed the belief that personalized ad experiences are the best, but followed up by stating:

“[W]e want to better match people’s evolving expectations of how advertisers may reach them on our platform and address feedback from civil rights experts, policymakers, and other stakeholders on the importance of preventing advertisers from abusing the targeting options we make available.”

To help soften the blow, Facebook is offering tips and examples for small businesses, non-profits, and advocacy groups to continue to reach their audiences that go beyond the broad targeting of gender and age.

These tips include creating different types of targeting such as Engagement Custom Audiences, Lookalike Audiences, Website Custom Audiences, Location Targeting, and Customer Lists from a Custom Audience.

Here’s the lowdown on how it will happen.

Per the Search Engine Journal, changes can be made to budget amounts or campaign names without impacting the targeting until March 17th. However, if you go to change the ad set level that will then cause changes at the audience level.

If you need to keep that particular ad to reuse, it may be best to edit the detailed targeting settings before March 17th in order to ensure you can make changes to it in the future.

I believe it was Heraclitus that declared change is constant. Knowing this, we can conclude other social platforms may follow suit and possibly adjust their targeting in the future as well.

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Hate speech seemingly spewing on your Facebook? You’re not wrong

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook (now Meta) employees estimate its AI tools only clean up 3%-5% of hate speech on the platform. Surprise, Surprise *eye roll*

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Facebook being crossed out by a stylus on a mobile device for hate speech.

As Facebook moves further toward Zuckerberg’s Metaverse, concerns about the efficiency with which the company addresses hate speech still remain, with employees recently estimating that only around 2% of offending materials are removed by Facebook’s AI screening tools.

According to Wall Street Journal, internal documents from Facebook show an alarming inability to detect hate speech, violent threats, depictions of graphic content, and other “sensitive” issues via their AI screening. This directly contradicts predictions made by the company in the past.

A “senior engineer” also admitted that, in addition to removing only around 2% of inappropriate material, the odds of that number reaching even a numerical majority is extremely unlikely: “Recent estimates suggest that unless there is a major change in strategy, it will be very difficult to improve this beyond 10-20% in the short-medium term.”

The reported efficacy of the AI in question would be laughable were the situation less dire. Reports ranging from AI confusing cockfights and car crashes to inaccurately identifying a car wash video as a first-person shooting are referenced in the internal documents, while far more sobering imagery–live-streamed shootings, viscerally graphic car wrecks, and open threats of violence against transgender children–went entirely unflagged.

Even the system in which the AI works is a source of doubt for employees. “When Facebook’s algorithms aren’t certain enough that content violates the rules to delete it, the platform shows that material to users less often—but the accounts that posted the material go unpunished,” reports Wall Street Journal.

AI has repeatedly been shown to struggle with bias as well. Large Language Models (LLMs)–machine-learning algorithms that inform things like search engine results and predictive text–have defaulted to racist or xenophobic rhetoric when subjected to search terms like “Muslim”, leading to ethical concerns about whether or not these tools are actually capable of resolving things like hate speech.

As a whole, Facebook employees’ doubts about the actual usefulness of AI in removing inappropriate material (and keeping underage users off of the platform) paint a grim portrait of the future of social media, especially as the Metaverse marches steadily forward in mainstream consumption.

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