Content Malls – The Road Ahead For Real Estate?

November 10, 2006

One of the downsides of being outside of Silicon Valley is not keeping up with the cutting edge lingo. A short while ago, people were predicting the death of the web portal as blogging became more popular.  The pendulum seems to be swinging back to more centralized group approaches to information in both the overall tech world as well as in the real estate blogging world.

Robert Scoble is primarily a tech blogger but also VP of a videoblogger content company, PodTech.net and apparently believes that the near future is again to be dominated by portal like “content malls”.   He just posted an interesting article about content malls.  You can read the full article but his approach to content malls is basically to “get 100 or so niche bloggers, [videobloggers, and/or podcasters] together, lash them together with links, hire a sales team to sell advertising, and build value through a good community, both inside and outside the firewall.”

Are the roots of real estate content malls happening in the US real estate blogging community now?  I believe so.  Robert defines some criteria of content malls as:

– sites that link to each other
– sites that group together audiences
– sites that serve a niche well
– sites that have brand quality (meaning others view them as authoritative and adding value)
– sites that have high levels of engagement (participation/linking/etc)

One site in particular (Active Rain) jumps out as the example of a growing real estate content mall of bloggers. Active Rain is a high quality social network of real estate professionals in the US and Canada that clearly meets nearly all of Robert’s criteria.

The engagement piece is particularly becoming interesting with the Carnival of Real Estate (best described by a participant, the MIOaklandCounty blog, here) where a rotating set of real estate bloggers can host and vote on various real estate blog posts.  A great idea that is well executed and obviously has excellent engagement as evidenced by the reservations out through the middle of 2007.

Why is this important? The international real estate community normally mirrors north American developments. Though international real estate has much “longer tail” of opportunity, there is little infrastructure exists to group international sites and audiences together due to language differences. Our web engine has many of the components to build a multi-language content mall (ad engine, management of microsites, translation workflow). However, like many startups, we dont yet have the brand quality or engagement to meet the standard. We are making progress in the video area as we now have 2 additional contracts with different companies for translating approx. 50-60 videos per week primarily from Spanish right now. We also are on the cusp of launching a number of targetted real estate microsites run by the same web engine that manages our three principal sites in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Gaining brand quality and engagement is definitely a high priority task for us over the coming weeks and months…

What are your thoughts on content malls and the criteria?  Are there other growing real estate content malls?

One comment

  1. Thanks, I didn’t even know about Active Rain.

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