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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began, the traditional real estate industry has cried foul over inaccurate search results, citing expired listings, withdrawn listings, or even pending listings as currently available properties within big search portals like Zillow, Trulia, Vast, and others.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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Social Media

Why Trump’s lawsuit against social media still matters

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Former President Trump snagged headlines for suing every large social media platform, and it has gone quiet, but it still deeply matters.

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It was splashed across headlines everywhere in July: Former President Trump filed a lawsuit against social media platforms that he claims unrightfully banned him during and after the fallout of the January 6th capitol riots. The headlines ran for about a week or so and then fell off the radar as other, fresher, just-as-juicy news headlines captured the media’s eye.

Many of us were left wondering what that was all about and if anything ever became of it. For even more of us, it probably passed out of our minds completely. Lack of public awareness for these things is common after the initial media blitz fades.

Lawsuits like these in the US can take months, if not years between newsworthy milestones. The most recent news I could find as of this publishing is from August 24, 2021, on Yahoo! News from the Washington Examiner discussing the Trump camp’s request for a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit.

This particular suit shouldn’t be left to fade from memory in the shadows though, and here’s why:

In the past few years, world powers have been reigning in regulations on social media and internet commerce. The US is actually a little behind the curve. Trump may have unwittingly given us a source of momentum to get with the times.

In the European Union, they have the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), widely acknowledged to be one of the toughest and most thorough privacy laws in the world, a bold title. China just passed its own pair of laws in the past four months: The Data Security Law, which took effect on Sept. 1, and The Personal Information Law, set to take effect November 1st. The pair is poised to give the GDPR a run for its money for that title.

Meanwhile, in the US, Congress has been occupied with other things and, while there are five bills that took aim at tech monopoly currently on the table and a few CEOs had to answer some questions, little actual movement or progress has been made on making similar privacy protections a thing in the United States.

Trump’s lawsuit, while labeled by many as a toothless public relations move, may actually create momentum needed to push regulation of tech and social media forward in the US. The merits of the case are weak and ultimately the legislation that would give it teeth doesn’t exist yet.

You can’t hold tech companies accountable to a standard that doesn’t properly exist in law.

However, high profile attention and someone willing to continue to make noise and bring attention back to the subject, one of Trump’s strongest talents, could be “just what the doctor ordered” to inspire Congress to make internet user rights and data privacy a priority in the US, finally.

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Even solopreneurs are doing live commerce online – it’s not just QVC’s game anymore

(SOCIAL MEDIA) When you think of watching a show and buying things in real time, it invokes thoughts of QVC, but social media video has changed all that.

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After the year everyone has had, one wouldn’t be remiss in thinking that humanity wants a break from live streaming. They would, however, be wrong: Live online commerce – a method of conversion first normalized in China – is the next evolution of the ubiquitous e-commerce experience, which means it’s something you’ll want on your radar.

Chinese company, Alibaba first live streamed on an e-commerce site in 2016, allowing buyers to watch, interact with, and buy from sellers from the comfort of their homes. In 2020, that same strategy netted Alibaba $7.5 billion in presale revenue – and it only took 30 minutes, according to McKinsey Digital.

But, though western audiences have proven a desire to be just as involved with sellers during the buying process, live commerce hasn’t taken off here the way it has elsewhere. If e-commerce merchants want to maximize their returns in the next few years, that needs to change.

McKinsey Digital points out a couple of different benefits for organizations using live commerce, the main one being an influx in traffic. Live streaming events break the buying experience mold, and consumers love being surprised. You can expect that prospective buyers who wouldn’t necessarily visit your store under normal circumstances would find value in attending a live event.

Live events also keep people on your site for longer, resulting in richer conversion opportunities.

The sense of urgency inherent in in-person shopping doesn’t always translate to online markets, but having a stream showing decreasing inventory or limited-availability items being sold inspires people to act expeditiously rather than sitting on a loaded cart–something that can kill an e-commerce conversion as quickly as it starts one.

There are a ton of different ways to incorporate live events into your e-commerce campaigns. Virtual auctions are popular, as are markets in which individual sellers take buyers through inventory. However, the live event could be tangentially related–or even just something impressive running in parallel with the sale–and still bring in a swell of revenue.

Screen fatigue is real, and there isn’t a true substitute for a brick-and-mortar experience when done correctly. But if you have an e-commerce shop that isn’t utilizing some form of live entertainment–even just to bring in new buyers–you’re going to want to try this strategy soon.

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LinkedIn is nixing Stories this month (LinkedIn had Stories!?)

(SOCIAL MEDIA) LinkedIn tried to be like the cool kids and launched “Stories,” but the video feature is being shelved and “reimagined.” Ok.

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Creating the next big thing is essential for social networks to stay relevant, continue growing, and avoid shutting down. Sometimes, this leads to businesses trying to ride along with the success of another app’s latest feature and creating their cloned version. While the logic of recreating something already working makes sense, the results aren’t universal.

This time around, LinkedIn is saying goodbye to its short-lived Snapchat-like video product, Stories. In a company post, LinkedIn says it’s removing its Stories experience by the end of September.

Why is LinkedIn retiring Stories?

According to a post by Senior Director of Product at LinkedIn Liz Li, “[LinkedIn] introduced Stories last year as a fun and casual way to share quick video updates.”

After some testing and feedback, they learned this is not what users wanted. Seems like they could have beta tested with users and heard the same thing, but I digress.

“In developing Stories, we assumed people wouldn’t want informal videos attached to their profile, and that ephemerality would reduce barriers that people feel about posting. Turns out, you want to create lasting videos that tell your professional story in a more personal way and that showcase both your personality and expertise,” said Li.

What does this mean for users?

Starting on September 30, 2021, users will no longer be able to create Stories for Pages. If you’ve already planned to have an image or video ads run in-between Stories, they will now appear on the LinkedIn feed instead. For those who used Campaign Manager to promote or sponsor a Story directly from your Page, the company says “these paid Stories will not appear in the LinkedIn feed”, and the user will need to recreate the ad in Campaign Manager.

What’s next for LinkedIn?

According to Li, LinkedIn is taking what it learned from its finding to “evolve the Stories format into a reimagined video experience across LinkedIn that’s even richer and more conversational.” It plans on doing so by using mixed media and the creative tools of Stories.

“As we reimagine what is next, we’re focusing on how we can provide you with a short-form, rich interactive video format that is unique to our platform and that better helps you reach and engage your audiences on LinkedIn. We’re always excited to try out new things and learn as we go, and will continue to share updates along the way,” the company said.

Although Stories didn’t work well for LinkedIn as they hoped, one thing is for sure. LinkedIn isn’t giving up on some form of interactive video, and we can only hope they “reimagine” something unique that keeps users coming back for more.

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