Category: Advertising

Google CEO: ‘Moral imperative’ to help newspapers

Google Inc. Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said that the Internet search leader hopes its recently acquired advertising service DoubleClick will aid newspapers as they struggle to corral more online revenue.

“It’s a huge moral imperative to help here,” Schmidt said during a question-and-answer session at an event hosted in San Francisco by Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Without providing specifics about how it might be accomplished, Schmidt said DoubleClick’s system for serving up online display ads could generate “significant” revenue online for newspapers.

There’s been much concern and controversy concerning the drop in relevance of newspaper real estate ads.

Seattle’s a two newspaper town but due to a Joint Operating Agreement, only the Seattle Times publishes a Sunday newspaper.

Real estate ads reign supreme on Sunday, but the section’s a mess with random ads scattered over a dozen or so pages. It’s impossible to find the property in the price range and neighborhood you want without reading every single page and filtering out the unsuitable properties.

The best solution I’ve seen so far is the “booklet” published by such papers as the Santa Barbara News-Press. It’s published by a company called Classified Concepts, and they make an incredible interface by selling classified Open House ads around an area map. Visually and graphically, a buyer can see the house location in an easy-to-carry magazine format.

Though I respect the Fourth Estate and the honorable separation of the editorial and advertising departments, I am tired of journalists publishing press releases verbatim from real estate vendors.

The unthinking and unquestioning publication of press releases from alternative online real estate companies is ironic to say the least. Our local bricks-and-mortar real estate firms spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in newspaper advertising. Online firms, who NEVER advertise, get so much ink that you’d think the editors and reporters were on the payroll.

Reporting news is good. Endlesslessly pushing and promoting online companies that will NEVER BUY ADVERTISING is bad journalism and poor judgement.

Press Release Journalism?

ZipRealty Launches Real Estate’s First Certified Pre-Owned Home Program

Sawbuck Realty Website Serves 1,000,000th Listing

Redfin claims sale of $7M home

Trulia Launches Self-Service Marketing for Real Estate Professionals

Microsoft closes down “Craigslist Killer”

Windows Live

Two years ago, seeing the success of Craigslist, Microsoft created Windows Live Expo. Hopes were, it was going to be a “Craigslist Killer”. It didn’t work out that way, however, and MS announced that the site will be discontinued at the end of July.

According to a message on its homepage, users can no longer create a new account, post or extend listings, or upgrade listings to “premium.” Although Microsoft hasn’t commented on the reasoning behind Live Expo’s departure, there’s speculation that because the service wasn’t as well advertised as it could have been, it never took it off in the way the company would have liked.

Online classifieds continue to be dominated by Craigslist, and none of the major players have been able to mount a good product to compete successfully. Google has Googlebase, which hasn’t seemed to take off with the real estate crowd, though here in the Pacific Northwest, Windermere and Coldwell Banker Bain has supplied them with a feed. Ebay has Kijiji. There’s Backpage, owned by Village Voice Media. Oodle, Vast, LiveDeal, now Overstock and literally hundreds more. None seem to have gained the traction that Craigslist has. Even with the looming threat of elimination of html, Craigslist will probably continue to reign supreme.

As an agent, I know that I have very limited patience with manually entering my listings to all of the sites out there. I’d much rather put it on one or two aggregators and call it a day, as I don’t have an assistant to post my listings on every single classified website in the entire universe. With the MLS, you get your listings posted automatically on every other real estate website and my brokerage, Coldwell Banker, is now supplying a feed to Zillow, GoogleBase and Trulia. If I make a Postlets ad, then it gets on Oodle and Lycos and Hot Pads. Manually entering each one of my listings to each of these sites is too labor intensive. Though it’s noted that each ad to Craigslist must be manually loaded, if it didn’t work, we wouldn’t do it.

Microsoft shuts down Live Expo classified ads site

Paying bloggers to say nice things


I got a call today from a salesperson at ePERKS. He wanted me to sign up for a program to receive leads off their website. If I bought one zip code, the fee would be $129.95 a month, plus an 18% referral fee back to them for every closed transaction.

Here’s the pitch from ePERKS:

ePERKS is a combination of search directory and search engine for major services. As a result there are directory membership fees as well as referral fees for when a deal is closed. Pricing is uniform across the United States and there are 3 simple programs that encompass the service.

This program provides complete exclusivity to the real estate professional, as members of this program are made the sole representatives for their selected areas of coverage. No other program listings are displayed, as the Exclusive Ownership Listing supersedes and eliminates all other listings.

100% Ownership of Selected Zip Codes (no other listings)
Supersedes and Eliminates All Other Listings
$129.95 a Zip Monthly
$150 Setup Fee
19% Referral Fee (80% given back to consumer)
No Extended Contract
Month to Month Billing
Cancel Anytime
Backed by ePERKS Guarantee

They also had other programs available where I’d share the zip code with other agents, for lower fees of $59 to $89 a month. Another black hole designed to swallow your dough, but a shallower one, I guess.

I wasn’t particularly interested, but I thought I’d just look it up to see what some other bloggers were writing about the company.

The funny thing is, all I could find were “sponsored” posts. Posts that were bought or placed for payment in the attempt to jumpstart some viral marketing. Apparently, their PR department has been busy paying bloggers to “write” stories, most identifical to the other, culled from a press release to collect a quick $10 or $20.

Pay per Post

Paid review: ePERKS on RhythmsWithRight

Paid post: Real Estate Deals and Incentives at from Current World News

Paid Review on Shadowscope

Paid post: Rebate real estate brokers from Infektia

Does it work to pay bloggers to say nice things about your crappy lead-generation website? I would think a good PPC campaign would be a more effective way to reach customers, without losing credibility in the marketplace.

Disclosure: I wasn’t paid a dime for this glowing review.

Craigslist Conundrum

I’ve gotten over a dozen calls and emails this morning about my beautiful view home rental advertised on Craigslist. Great, right? Except I have no rental listing available.

Someone, not in malice, erroneously put an ad from the CBBain website on Craigslist, with my contact information on it.

Obviously, we have seen ads places there with malicious intent, like that gal who placed the ad to come and take anything they wanted out of her aunt’s house. Or those who place rental ads, collect first, last and a deposit, on homes they don’t own, and do it a dozen times to a dozen different renters. Or the stupid and short-sighted landlords and agents who post fake, repetitive, or bait-and-switch adds over and over. This is tame and harmless compared to that. But annoying, nevertheless.

It serves as a reminder to check your links before posting anything online, don’t believe everything you read and “flag with care”.

April Fools round-up

It’s the end of the month and I’m almost to the end of my Zillow experiment, where I bought a dozen or so zipcodes in the Seattle area, where my EZ ad would run thousands of times during the month. I have received 1 personal acknowledgment from a neighbor who was Zillowing his own house and saw my ad. And, so far, 208 click-through’s to my website

Since I bought more than 1,000 page views for a few upper-end zips to pay about $200 for the month, it looks like I’m averaging about $1.00 a click, equal to what some key phrases on Google are charging. However, the difference is that with Zillow, people are still seeing my name and smiling face whether or not they actually click on my web link. It’s impressions or page views I’m paying for with Zillow, not just click throughs to my site.

Customers finding ones site through organic search is still the ideal, but, as pointed out by Dustin over at Rain City Guide, some search engines have been “confused” lately. Or are some sites being purposely penalized? Word on the real estate forums is that whole categories of websites are being removed from search engines, either for perceived industry-wide transgressions (such as exchanging too many links with other professionals) or as a ruse to sell more advertising. After all, if you don’t show up in organic search, you’re much more likely to purchase ads, right?

VR Seattle

In another experiment (for both of us) Bradford Bohonus at VR Seattle placed a little Seattle Dream Homes tile on his site, and we’re monitoring clicks, just to see what happens. VR Seattle is Bradford’s virtual tour site specializing in 360 degree virtual reality photography. This imaging technology is utilized for creating interactive virtual tours and environments and is a perfect vehicle for marketing real estate.

Bernice Ross had a little post last week about agents who were too cheap to pay for video tours of homes. Granted, VRSeattle is not cheap. But when marketing upper-end properties, expenditures of several thousand dollars for advertising and promotion is not unusual.

Hurricane Ridge from VR Seattle

These are some of my favorite VR Tours. They are so cool:

Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Forest (less than 100 miles from my house…..)
Skyline of Seattle
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Golden Gate Bridge

Also, as an experiment, I’m trying a different logo on his website.

I have my classic Seattle Dream Homes logo:

Seattle Dream Homes 1

And then I tried a different look, which I debuted on VR Seattle:

Seattle Dream Homes 2

If it works out well, I’ll move in that direction for the whole site. The old logo was all flowery, like Martha Stewart selling real estate, so I may be ready for a change.

In other interesting end-of-April (Fools) news, Redfin also redesigned their logo and website and opened a new office in Boston.

They made news on April Fools Day by launching the “real estate consumer’s bill of rights”. They stated “The premise of the bill is that consumers should have all the information the agent does about a house they’re trying to buy or sell, and about how the whole process works.”

Uhmmm…. my buyers and sellers already DO have all this information. But I digress….

Anyway, they sent out press releases to dozens of news organizations and got Inman News to trumpet it to their “hundreds of thousands of real estate subscribers”, requesting that Realtors, sales agents, brokers and buyers and sellers sign a petition that they would then send to the National Association of Realtors and all the MLS’s around the country.

So far, as of today, after 100’s of press releases, blog posts and newspaper articles and thousands of dollars of free publicity, they have a grand total of 70 signatures. Most signers appear to be Redfin employees or respected folks like “Daffy Duck”, “I.P. Daly” and “Heywood Jablowme”.

I’m so glad this April Fools month is finally over!

With 2 you get eggroll…..

Read 360digest

Matt Carter had a little post a while back he called “Confucius on mortgage fraud“, prompted by a gift of personalized fortune cookies he received from Interthinx, which offers an automated fraud detection system to mortgage lenders. I don’t know why I kept thinking about this, but Matt was somewhat offended by the “pidgin” English sayings on the fortune cookies.

Generally, I’d have to say I’m pretty sensitive to offending folks sensibilities in regards to race, religion, disabilities and the like, but I’m on the fence about this example. It’s not always so clear anymore, what is offensive or not. With the fortune cookie, it’s a Western construct, but the Chinese were the ones who adopted it here in the West and added the fortunes….

Anyway, the reason I noted this was that one of the best promotions I ever did was having custom fortune cookies made for a listing I had a few years ago that featured Asian-inspired architectural design. The fortunes read “You will buy this house today” and “Take time to ponder your future home purchase from Marlow”, “You will have good luck in your new home” and things like that. They were a hoot.

The local company I bought them from was from Short Order Fortunes, but there are plenty of other firms that will make and ship them around the country.

More Fortune Cookie sites:

Weird Fortune Cookie Collection

Fortune Cookie Generator

Tasteless Fortunes

Doggie Style

Doggie Style

There was lots of response after I received the title Real Estate Poodle and I was going to have new cards with that added after my name, but decided to be either Real Estate Curmudgeon or Real Estate Blog Goddess instead.

Doggies and real estate have always gone together….

Accidental real estate porn via Boing Boing

If I really do add “Real Estate Poodle” to my resume, would it be passe already? I hate be tired and redundant and there seems to be so many doggies already out there….

Hot Dog!

Seattle House Hound

Bloodhound Blog

Ask Howard, the Real Estate Dog

Logical Dog, real estate resources and websites

Oregon Real Estate (Furry Tail Times)

Barking Dog

United Country Farm Town Real Estate – “Independent labs agree”

Top Dog Agent

Blue Dog Real Estate

What is this? Never heard of bird dogging as a real estate investment strategy

Working Dog Dog Real Estate from Boston


My Dog Tess, a new bread of Realtor

Realhound, commercial real estate software

Real Estate Dog
– with a keen sense for business

Top Dogs, commercial real estate marketing

Sadie sells Delaware real estate

Personal Retreiver

Coldwell Banker’s Personal Retreiver