We had a good discussion about the whole syndication flap on yesterday’s Power Hour Rountable call. Everyone agreed that the whole concept of the syndicators using our own data to attract leads they sell back to us was repugnant. However, they saw it pretty much as something we did to ourselves (we being Realtors in general). We failed to give consumers what Zillow, Trulia and others gave them, and today, that’s where consumers go to look for houses.
The group was quick to accept reality: this is the way it is today. Sellers expect to be seen on the syndication sites. If you can’t give that to them, they will likely go elsewhere. They don’t care what your syndication baggage is or how indignant you are about using your data to attract leads for other brokers. They just expect to be there. Plus there was general consensus that the aggregator sites work. At one point in the call Ken Kopcho got on his mobile phone and counted: 31 leads from Zillow!
Speaking for the group, I’d say we agreed to go full bore into mining this rich source of leads,and nobody wants to stop syndicating. However, there was agreement with what Kirk Eisele said in his comment: consumers will go wherever their needs are best met, and this is not a closed case. When someone comes along with a home search tool that out-Zillows Zillow, that’s where consumers will go. There’s no reason why that can’t be us. We own our own technology, aren’t dependent on outside vendors who have to please masses of clients, and can do whatever we want with our web presence.
Go back in time, oh, 7 years I guess. Helpusell.com had outrageous web traffic. And it excreted leads, one after the other. There was a good reason why we, at times, had better traffic than much larger organizations: we embraced IDX and used it when most of the industry was afraid to give that information to consumers. Consumers wanted to go to one website and look at all houses available for sale in the local market. Using IDX to do that gave us a big leg-up on the competition.
But of course, in time the competition leveled the playing field by dropping their hysterical resistance to giving the public free access to information and adding IDX to their own sites. We suffered a major blow when one large competitor went to our vendor and basically bought them out from under us. We went from being the darling of Internet lead creation to . . . nowhere. That’s why, today, we own our own tech. We built it, it’s not available to anyone else and it does what we want it to do.
We have an opportunity today to take back some of what we gave up to the aggregators. The shift will come when we give them everything they get from Zillow and MORE. Today? I have to run because I just got 5 new leads from my ad on Trulia.