Trulia becomes more Broker-Centric

by Victor Lund on May 8, 2012

TruliaLogoBrokers have been on a rant for the past few years. Online publishers went too far to compel agent and broker advertising on their sites. They pursued rigorous policies that masked the listing agent and listing broker from the consumer.

This had three profound effects and led to several types of actions:

  • Removal: In disgust, some brokers retreated from syndication completely (See Edina Realty, Shorewest REALTORS and others)
  • Enhancements: Some brokers went with the flow and enhanced or featured their listings to take over publisher sites in their area (See Howard Hanna and many others).
  • Data Games: Some brokers gave third party websites the short stick of data by limiting photos and data fields to insure that the broker website had curated more compelling property information for the consumer.

WAV Group has worked with many of the nations leading brokers to develop all three of these strategies and help execute them to maximize effectiveness. Depending on the brokerage, they all work. But something else has happened. Brokers are wearing down the third party publishers. Their voices have been heard loud and clear. The velocity and volume of dissatisfaction with third party websites is making it impossible for employees at those companies to show up in public without facing ridicule. Finally, they are beginning to back off and consider the perspective of their forgotten customer: the real estate broker who provides the very food they serve their consumer. It is a good thing.

If a bad child gets back on the right path, it is important to stop the punishment for their bad deeds. In some small way, Trulia has turned the corner and began to align itself with its broker family. They are not fully rehabilitated, but they are trying.

In an announcement yesterday, Trulia stepped up their efforts to support the primary concerns that brokers have about publishing their listings on third party websites. Specifically, they are making changes to Trulia.com to clearly identify the listing agent, the listing broker, and the website of the listing broker.

This new identification policy of the listing agent and the broker will be prominently displayed at the right hand side of the primary property photo, and again at the bottom of the page.  Trulia will link to the broker’s website if that information is available. Trulia will also display contact information of the agent and the broker if that information is available.

IMPORTANT: MAKE SURE THAT YOUR AGENTS HAVE FREE TRULIA PROFILES!

Trulia engineers are currently in the process of removing Trulia Local Ads from featured listings. In doing so, they will be falling in line with Zillow, Realtor.com, Homes.com and other publishers. Agents who purchased zip code level advertising from Trulia will no longer be featured as the famous three heads on broker listings have their Local Ads displayed on featured listings. They will only appear when the broker or agent has not featured their listings. Unlike Zillow, Realtor.com, and other publishers, Trulia allows agents to remove the lead generation module on the bottom of the page at no charge simply by claiming the listing.

Trulia will link to the listing detail page if that information is available. If the feed comes from the broker with the link to the broker website, they will display that link. If the feed comes from a franchise with a link to the property detail page on the franchise website, Trulia will link to that. If the feed comes from an MLS with a link to the Listhub or Point2 property detail page, they will link to that. (Trulia has not revised their “do not follow” policy that stops search engine spiders from following the link from Trulia to the listing source for indexing and search engine optimization).

Trulia holds their proprietary feed ranking close to the vest. Feed ranking determines the trumping order for display when Trulia gets the same listing from duplicate sources. WAV Group thinks it goes something like this: Featured Listing (agent or broker), broker, franchise, MLS. The depth of the data fields, like number of photos and data fields also plays a role in the trumping order.

There are still many components of third party websites that brokers will find objectionable. Everything has not been fixed, but one issue is resolved on one site. There are still many shortfalls regarding the Terms of Use – principally the notion that the Publisher retains the rights to the data forever for limitless use – but the broker retains all liability. I would like to see Trulia step up and adopt the Terms of Use published by REALTOR.com. There is more, but I will leave that rant for another day.

Letter from Pete Flint -

Over the past three months, our industry team and our senior executives logged more than 100,000 miles on the road meeting with leading brokers across the country. We met with franchisors, large regional brokerages, and smaller brokers in their local markets to collaborate and identify how we can strengthen our relationship and help you succeed.

We listened closely and gathered feedback from partners like Houlihan Lawrence, @properties, RE/MAX Results, The Keyes Company and dozens more. I am delighted to say we are putting that feedback into action. In the coming weeks, Trulia will be launching a series of updates to improve broker-marketing tools and address the challenges around data accuracy and advertising on property listings. Some of the changes we will make are below.

Enhance identification of listing broker and agent

We will enhance the identification of the listing broker and listing agent on every listing on our site, both at the top of the page and in the body of the detailed listing data.

Top of the Page Attribution Module

Trulia Photo 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottom of the Page Attribution Module

Trulia Photo 2

 

 

 

Broker logo will display on all premium listings

Remove competing ads on featured listings

We will remove competing agent and/or broker display advertising on featured listings. On non-featured listings, paid advertisements will be more clearly identified.

Display Ads on Non-Featured Listings

Trulia Photo 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Improve listing data accuracy

We will enhance listing management and claiming processes to improve accuracy of the listings we display. It has always been our goal to display the most accurate listings information to home buyers and sellers. That said, as you know, data accuracy is a complex challenge due to the fragmented nature of the real estate industry’s data management systems. This challenge is not unique to Trulia, and we continue to invest significant resources towards developing effective solutions, but we need your assistance. Our interests are fully aligned with yours on this subject; data accuracy is a shared responsibility we need to solve together. We ask for your help and support, and are committed to continue to work with the industry to improve data quality on all levels.

We’ve built our audience to more than 23 million consumers visiting every month and we want to create a compelling and accurate experience that connects them to our brokers, agents and partners. We want to be your premier media and technology partner to contribute to your success. Part of Trulia’s success is that we have always iterated on our products by listening to our customers, in our commitment to creating the best real estate experience. We look forward to more collaboration and ongoing discussion in the future.

Best,

Pete Flint
CEO and Co-Founder 
Trulia

 

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Victor Lund May 8, 2012 at 10:06 am

Yes. For real estate brokers enrolled in the WIN Reports (Website Intelligence Network), we will be tracking the changes in effectiveness in publishing listings on Trulia. We will be measuring changes in traffic, changes in lead generation, and changes in conversions. The next WIN Report will chronicle those changes against other publisher sites like Zillow, Realtor.com, Homes.com, Homefinder, etc.

Given the timing of the roll out of these changes, it may take more than 30 days for data to be collected. Brokers interested in joining the WIN network can contact Victor Lund. Contact information is in the footer of the website.

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