Friday Flash: RPR ecstasy, beautiful servers, and a second look at Facebook ads

The RPR, NAR’s national property records database, will become available to all NAR members on November 1.

On that date, a bright light will shine upon the real estate industry and one million agents will gaze upward, beatific and speechless, in a gesture of gratitude:

RPR Promo

In all seriousness, this is a noteworthy development.

Until recently, two things were true:

  1. RPR was positioned as a self-sustaining subsidiary of the NAR. Money would be made by licensing the data provided to RPR by MLSs and agents to institutions outside the industry. That business model is still intact, but the self-sustaining part seems to be in question.
  2. RPR would only be available in markets where the MLS agreed to give its data to RPR. MLS data was the secret sauce that would make RPR more valuable to Realtors and those outside institutions. The plan was to make RPR available to all Realtors at some point in the future. That time has come.

I suppose the idea is that when all these new users log in and see that there’s no MLS data, they’ll pressure their local leadership to hand over the goods to RPR. Or it could go the other way. MLSs already sending their data to RPR may bail because their members will get the benefit without the quid pro quo.

If this sounds confusing, that’s because it is. The RPR endeavor is high ambition wrapped in mind-numbing inside baseball.

I am left thinking, as I was three years ago, that the NAR should stick to what it’s good at.

In our experience, Facebook advertising hasn’t been all that effective for real estate companies.

But that may change as Facebook hustles to ramp up its ad revenues. Two products the company has announced in the past few months could be useful to larger real estate brokerages and franchisors.

Facebook Exchange enables retargeting within Facebook. If you’ve ever visited a company’s website then wondered why their ads suddenly appeared on every other site you go to, you’ve seen retargeting in action.

Until now, those ads couldn’t follow you into Facebook. But if you’re a brokerage with significant traffic, you can now serve ads to people who have visited your site (and thus signaled an intent to transact real estate) when they are on Facebook. The idea would be to reinforce your brand, and your message, during a critical decision period.

Advertisers seem to like it so far.

Facebook Custom Audience Targeting is a little more controversial. It makes it possible for advertisers to reach Facebook users already in their in-house database (e.g., a reservation system, an email list).

It sounds kind of silly at first, but think about this: If you’re a broker, loyalty is a problem. So why wouldn’t you want to start getting your brand in front of your Facebook-using former customers when they’ve been in their home for that magic seven-years? Or why not serve some Facebook ads to folks who have singed-up for email alerts on your website?

Of course, you have to have your customer data act together, and there are privacy issues with which to grapple. But in any case, early advertisers like this as well.

Facebook advertising is going to be worth a close second look.

Google pulled back the veil on its data centers a little bit.

You wouldn’t think servers could be made to look beautiful, but these photos do just that.

Enjoy the weekend.