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The Flip Side of the Inaccurate Search Results Debate- Good News?

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stewieOh how they cry

From the day aggregation of MLS/Broker data began, the traditional real estate industry has cried foul over inaccurate search results, citing expired listings, withdrawn listings, or even pending listings as currently available properties within big search portals like Zillow, Trulia, Vast, and others.

But why the angst?

For years, Craigslist has been abused by the traditional sales agent in the practice of the old fashioned bait and switch, where a house with a price, no address, and a phone number is inappropriately titled “This won’t last.”  I say inappropriately because it simply didn’t exist to begin with, or maybe it did… last year. This practice continues unchecked even to this day; it’s simply an old sales tactic that no one seems to want to curb, yet ‘the traditionals’ continue to cry foul when big media companies simply aggregate the data directly from the Brokers.

Why the sales tactic works

Right or wrong, it works because the offending agent knows that the house in the Craigslist ad matters not because it was the area and price point that actually sold the unknowing consumer into making the phone call — inventory is abundant, and the agent has the MLS to satisfy the desires of the unwitting consumer.

Which brings us to the point

It’s the job of any agent to vet fact from fiction, check availability, and provide options to consumers in the first place-why and from where the phone rang is only relevant to understanding the desires of the consumer.  If in fact the listing data is correct is moot as it’s your job to present alternative options that empower the consumer to make the best decision based on all of the options anyway.  How many times have you as an agent had your own client call you on another agent’s Craigslist ad for you to find and show them the property? It happens, and you’re put in the uncomfortable position of apologizing for a 100 year old sales tactic you’ve never practiced, but ultimately, you become the hero.

So why the boohooing?

If Zillow, Trulia, and the rest provide closer to accurate information that is above and beyond popular sites like Craigslist (which are more agent driven and inaccurate), isn’t this a good thing? If the traditional industry isn’t willing to police itself in the public space where the data they’re sharing is potentially inaccurate, wouldn’t we prefer our consumers at least begin their search in an arena that at least aims for some semblance of accuracy standards? It stands to reason that if the traditional industry is so concerned with inaccurate data, then wouldn’t it be better to begin educating buyer agents against such a practice and Brokers cracking the whip on agents utilizing them? Regardless of the medium and the ethics it disregards, it seems acceptable so long as it’s done by ‘the professionals.’

Free happy endings

In our opinion, it’s good news that you (those that stand against bait and switch) are there to bring the value in accuracy and efficiency because it’s no longer about where the search began (that cat is out of the bag) but more about how it ended- with you. The search result was you- the rest remains “traditional.”

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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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Chris

    March 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Interesting perspective. I’ll have to show this to the agents blasted by owners/landlords who find their deal pending/expired exclusive properties on these sites.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 27, 2010 at 4:08 pm

      Good, maybe they’ll actually read the post.

  2. Bruce Lemieux

    March 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    The quality of Trulia and Zillow’s data is *so* bad, they do more harm than good. How bad is their listing data? I analyzed a popular zip code outside of D.C. in December and compared our MLS which had 72 active listings. Zillow listed 95 listings, yet only 36 of these were valid listings. Trulia showed 106 homes, yet 45 were accurate. What’s active and what’s not? A consumer would have no idea. We can’t expect them to know the difference between MLS-sourced listing data and syndicated data.

    It’s reasonable for a home buyer to expect that a national home search site would have somewhat accurate data. It irritates the life out of me that these guys knowingly present big buckets of crap data so they can sell web ads and services to agents. Under the guise of empowering home buyers, the add more confusion than clarity. It’s disingenuous and a horrible business model.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 27, 2010 at 7:54 pm

      Hi Bruce, what was their response when you showed them your comparison?

      What I’m more interested in with this article is beyond paragraph one- It’s a from the top down protection of the data beginning with traditional. You’re right, if T, and Z, ignore your findings, that is a problem, but there’s a problem right here at home and that’s so called professionals practicing this every single day on CL and in some cases, even their own sites with sold and not sold listings.

      I think if we as an industry made this a priority, the 3rd parties would have to follow suit.

      • Bruce Lemieux

        March 27, 2010 at 9:15 pm

        I didn’t share my findings with Trulia or Zillow. They are smart companies, they know how bad their data is. Any site that relies on listing syndication will have poor data quality since the data source is incomplete and unreliable.

        An MLS (and the public-facing IDX feed from the MLS) is the only place with rules to maintain a listing status accurately. It’s impossible for this to be 100% accurate all of the time since it relies on people, but wouldn’t most MLS data be 97+% accurate? I’m sure some MLS’s are better than others at policing their members. Forums like this indicate that many agents are victim to backwards/ineffective MLSs. I guess that at I’m better off than most since I participate in MRIS (metro D.C.) which is quite good. Still – I couldn’t imagine any MLS having data as poor as the syndicated sites.

        This is a post with my comparison of MLS and syndicated sites – bit.ly/6SYIw8

        I do see old listings on individual agent web sites, but most (all) don’t get enough hits to make a difference. And how many home buyers are looking on CL? Some, I guess, but isn’t this a tiny percentage of the total? CL is a horrible place to search for homes (or anything else). Still — I agree with you that a Broker must take responsibility for their agents CL shenanigans.

        • Benn Rosales

          March 27, 2010 at 9:24 pm

          Bruce, your last paragraph says it, but I assure you, we’re not talking about a few hits when we’re talking about CL. It’s popular because consumers want to consumer to consumer transactions, FSBO type approach, and mixed within are agents so badly that CL here in Austin began separating agents and consumers, and even still agents infiltrate the fsbo side posing as consumers. CL is big enough that Craigs been to Inman God knows how many times, and a few media companies want their share of lease ads.

          I know in a few markets midwest, cl is really just coming to life, but this isn’t just CL, or just online media, it’s in the real estate book, and many many other publications- this is sales tactic that spans decades.

  3. Missy

    March 27, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Agents should stay on top of their listings. They syndicate to the big 3 but when it sells it doesn’t go away except on R dot C to my knowledge.

    Most agents just list a house, and forget it. Two or more years later, a consumer calls on a house, they found. I check the MLS, it is sold or expired.

    Still it is up to the agent IMO to check their own listings.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 27, 2010 at 7:48 pm

      Missy, if we’re to continue to cry about data perfection, you’re right, it really should start at ground zero in either case. I find the MLS to be inaccurate as well time and time again, from showing times, to status – I once found a home with another houses images, imagine our surprise when we rolled up…

  4. Deborah Bernat

    March 27, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    @agentgenius The Flip Side of the Inaccurate Search Results Debate- Good News? https://bit.ly/aYVCeR

  5. good

    March 27, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    The Flip Side of the Inaccurate Search Results Debate- Good News? https://bit.ly/cXVNEa

  6. realdiggity

    March 27, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    The Flip Side of the Inaccurate Search Results Debate- Good News?: comments https://bit.ly/bPyRRg

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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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