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Obeoman Tears On Real Estate Video

June 13, 2007

(Written while connecting in San Jose, Costa Rica on my way to Panama) 

I was over at http://www.mybloglog.com/buzz/members/VideoHomes/ today (actually someone directed me there via email). Obeoman makes a bunch of negative points about real estate video in the comments section. The comment is about two weeks old so I’ll use our trip to spain as an excuse for not seeing it before. We put up some counterpoints there but I’ll respond in more detail here:

Comment: If you Alexa the companies that are doing RE video and stack them up, the traffic pile is not as deep as you-know-who-E-O 

Alexa? Lets see…alexa data is tied to use of the Alexa toolbar,  the alexa toolbar only works on windows,  and (unless I missed a configuration option) isn’t even available in Spanish or Portuguese so very few people with primary languages other than english use it.  With  US real estate transactions to immigrants or foreigners nearing 50% this year, is a tool that primarily measures english language traffic the right measurement vehicle? Much of our traffic isnt being counted as far as Alexa is concerned. 

Comment: Plus you usually have to look at some broker or agent hind quarters, making you feel like a sled dog.

We actually are in agreement with this point – thats why we have chosen not to take this approach.  The percentage of agents that could do this well is only a very small percentage of agents.  On a related point, the author of Guerrilla Marketing warned that business owners should never star in their own commercials – isn’t this essentially the same thing? We have hundreds of property videos online…not one has a broker or agent. 

Comment: Find me ten RE video tours – done by agents or brokers at any site anywhere on the web that have any production values at all and I will eat this blog.

Ok..replace “RE video tours” with “skyscrapers” and “agents or brokers” with “fast food cashiers” (or any such combination of dissimilar professions and resulting products) and you’ll see the fallacy in the logic.  Agents and brokers sell houses… they should not be expected to produce professional videos, underwrite mortages, or any other domain knowledge specific job – isn’t that why the service provider industry (including Obeo) exists in the first place?  

Comment: The vast majority of RE video tours are so poorly executed with lousy lighting, fuzzy focus, shaky shooting, poor panning and awful audio it really isn’t any wonder why this hot new trend is flailing to sizzle-yes, flailing

Flailing as a business?  I cant speak for other companies but (shameless plug follows) we’ll be profitable this month without a dime from advertising or even angel investment beyond my own. We have grown organically. Our visitor traffic has doubled twice since January.  We’ve sold houses and even have Americans in South America negotiating to buy properties as a result of our videos. Unlike many sites, our property videos are statistically watched far more than our real estate interviews.  

Many of our initial contracts involved licensing translated video narratives for local real estate TV programs – there is some variance in the production quality of those videos but not of the Panama videos. maybe not perfect…but hardly “lousy”, “fuzzy”, “shakey”, etc. 

So, in the interest of being constructive, here are some observations:

– In our view, many real estate video companies are mistakenly focusing on the player software rather than the things that actually sell houses.  Others are also providing promotional videos for local businesses, restaurants, and stores that might be of interest but feedback tells us that visitors view them as the ads that they are.  Information is one thing…ads are another.  Other companies like to describe themselves as “plays” – we prefer to focus on building a sustainable business…whatever happens, happens after that.

– Figuring out how to engage an audience early isn’t unique to real estate video. Gaining engaging momentum before the listing gets cool is a problem for all forms of online marketing (even for Obeo).  Users just want information and sellers just want buyers….whatever works, works.

– Success with video brings with it some flawed assumptions IMHO. For instance, the problem of how to build an engaged audience that watches videos with the idea of actually buying one is a different problem to solve than how to have a viral real estate video on one of the popular video sites.  Viral has no time pressure – our customers do.  Neighborhood video content is only a small piece of the puzzle and may attract visitors with intents that are different from buying.

I like the Obeo site…they’ve done some good things.  I’m a fan and respect Obeoman.  Something must be driving his points…but they sure dont seem to apply to us.

Thoughts?

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5 comments

  1. …again:location, location, location: where are these tours agreggating on the web? The main use of RE web video at this point is to still build affinity for location and to promote branding for Realtors.

    And with the expanding international market for 2nd and retirement homes, look carefully at these videos – they are generally about affinity for location and not so much about the individual listings.

    The problem with RE video is that it is not as sticky as VTs, cost prohibitive and unless it is part of a comprehensive web marketing program including referral, linking and cross-use of images in off-line marketing for consistency, it becomes a blur.

    Finally, no RE video company is listed in the NAR Verical Metrix Marketing Ranking – at least as of Thursday, June 14 at 12:15 am.


  2. Obeoman

    Thanks for stopping by. Really!

    As far as NAR Vertical metrix Marketing Ranking, I would be surprised if an online real estate company in business since 1999 were not in that ranking. To me, placement there is not a indicator at all as to whether an industry is flailing or not. It rightly signifies that you are now an established company with enough traffic to make the list. Lists like that change often…as an example, how many companies listed on the S&P 500 today were there in 1920, 1950, 1970, 1990? All else being the same, would Obeo have made NAR’s list today with their numbers 7 months into startup?

    Lack of growth for a startup or slowing growth for an established firm likely is a better indicator of “Flailing-ness”. Our traffic doubled between January 2007 and today. From the data that I’ve seen, you’ve grown by a miniscule percentage over the same period.

    Since you raised the point, I’ll also factually disagree on the video being cost prohibitive statement. I didnt go through many zip codes for pricing on your site but our fully burdened pricing in Miami (filming, editing, professional narration in three languages, and hosting) is less expensive than approx. half of your packages and we don’t have any additional “nickel and dime” fees.

    Hope that helps separate some of the myth from reality. I think that you have a great site and the market clearly does as well. The best possible scenario I can envision is for you to dismiss us. Let’s have this same conversation at the 2008 NAR conference. I’ll buy the beer.

    Tony


  3. Now you can eat your blog.


  4. I have no blog to eat – maybe nibble. Debate is great. And I like beer You can still stack up the RE video firms on the web and not get our traffic – 4.2 million page views daily. The miniscule growth you mention should be seen as percentage on the scale of page views.

    Cost? – Obeo is a market leader. Money follows results. Every nickel and every dime spent by our clients can be measured in achievement, lik eup to 30% percent off on-makrket time.

    Dismissed? – Yes, not by Obeo, but by lack of effective aggregation of content. This lack of aggregation will trip up most of the video RE firms out there, and the lack of a stated marketing program will stall out most of the rest.

    It’s great to hear your traffic has doubled – where do you think they came from?

    Looking forward to the beer!

    steven.stearns@obeo.com


  5. “Money follows results”

    On this point, we strongly agree.



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