Empathy and bad marketing breath
I was doing a little research this week for a client on a new listing of theirs to see how and where it was showing up on the web.
The usual suspects showed up: Trulia, Zillow, Redfin. 1, 2, 3 in the Google SRPs. Not much of a surprise there.
Clicking through to each of the pages individually, more of the same. Same photos, same description, same price. Nothing to see here, right?
Then something caught my eye. On Redfin’s page, a small grey video button.
Interesting, I thought. I clicked Play.
What rolled was a short informative video. It wasn’t much more than a strung together series of photos, but it had been enhanced with some nice motion graphics and a professional-sounding narration. (To view one of these videos yourself, hit the “Play video” button that appears in the photo reel on the listing detail page.)
What was more impressive, though, was that it was automatically generated.
I clicked through more homes in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Portland, and all of them had the little grey video button. The videos even had nice personal local touches – Portland, for instance, was referred to as the “City of Roses” in the voiceover.
As far as I can tell, Redfin seems to be creating these videos for nearly every MLS listing on its website.
I had to learn more.
Digging through Redfin’s code I found references to a company called SundaySky. Some quick GoogleFoo revealed that the company has a product called SmartVideo that allows “the real-time creation of videos that are personalized to the individual” – sure sounds like a candidate.
I read through the case studies on SundaySky and watched some more examples of its videos and I’m pretty sure this is how Redfin is doing this.
Like I said, pretty mind-blowing stuff. Technically, this must be a massive undertaking. Creating millions, or at the very least, hundreds of thousands, of dynamically created videos for every listing on its site.
To what end, you ask? Well… think back to the scenario I presented at the top of this post. Where I searched for that listing. Google is always looking for unique content to better position its results in the hands of its users and video is a key differentiator these days.
And in real estate, where every broker is merchandising the same inventory on the web, Redfin just found a way to package it better than everyone else.
I have no idea whether using another broker’s assets this way is compliant — I have to imagine it is — but I tip my hat to Redfin for its audaciousness nevertheless.
Color me impressed.
Smart industry takes and creative inspiration.