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Archive for July, 2007

Zillow.com takes on BloodhoundBlog, attempting to crush The Future Of Real Estate Marketing in the process

In a move that is either inspired or incredibly stoopid, Zillow.com will this afternoon launch a brand new group weblog devoted to real estate technology issues. This of course is a large part of the content of BloodhoundBlog and it is the entire focus of The Future Of Real Estate Marketing. The new weblog, called GeekEstate Blog, will draw its contributions from a cadre of real estate technology vendors. Presumably this will be pleasing to the foxes. The hens? Not so much.

From the Zillow Blog (this text is extracted from a pre-launch press release):

As much as the real estate industry is based on people-to-people contact, there is no denying that technology is becoming ever more crucial for real estate professionals as a way to reach consumers and each other. With this in mind, we are proud today to announce the launch of a new technology blog that Zillow has founded — GeekEstate Blog!

[…]

GeekEstate Blog is a multi-author format and is launching with seven contributors. Our kickoff team of regular contributors includes Michael Price from MLPodcast, Matt Dunlap from Realivent, Damon Pace from Incredible Agent, Brendan King from Point2, WordPress designer Cory Miller, and Steve Jagger from Ubertor. I’ll [Drew Meyers] be the seventh contributor rounding out this group.

I happen to think Steve Jagger is a nice guy, as is Mike Price. Jay Thompson likes Point2. Even so, what we have is a union of fairly low-tech tech vendors, none of whom is going to issue a discouraging word about one of the others’ products, nor about Zillow.com. INTJs like Drew Meyers might say something interestingly impolitic from time to time, but the rest of these guys got the windowed offices because they know how to tailor a response to the demands of their marketing. In other words, if you’re looking for independent balls-to-the-wall analysis, it won’t be at the GeekEstate Blog.

Nota bene:

Zillow will play an administrative role on this blog and keep the wheels turning. We’ll also occasionally provide our own insight based on our understanding of real estate technology. Lastly, we’ll head up the process of recruiting other bloggers as contributors to continue to grow GeekEstate Blog’s reach and content.

If Redfin.com’s Glenn Kelman has an infinite supply of feet to shoot himself in, Zillow.com-the-corporation has the world’s heaviest thumb. I cannot imagine what a delight it would be to write under that kind of supervision, but I expect I wouldn’t have to imagine it for very long.

From the GeekEstate Blog (again quoting from the press release):

The seven at-launch contributors listed below have been selected for their understanding of both technology and the real estate industry and share the belief that educating potential clients is the best form of marketing. These people work in technology companies who serve the real estate industry, but they aren’t here to hard-sell you on their products. They are:
  • Michael Price – President/Founder of MLPodcast, a video pod-casting service for the real estate industry. Mike’s background includes experience with most facets of applied real estate technology and its convergence with marketing, including data distribution, Web application development, listing enhancements, marketing metrics, and new media.
  • Damon Pace – Founder and CEO of Incredible Agent, a provider of real estate marketing systems for agents and brokers. Damon has also been an active Realtor with RE/MAX Excalibur in Scottsdale, Arizona.
  • Stephen Jagger – Co-founder of Ubertor, a real estate technology company that builds websites for real estate professionals. Stephen is actively involved in the real estate industry as a public speaker and co-founder of the largest real estate agent meet-up in North America. He has been an avid real estate blogger since 2004.
  • Brendan King – COO of Point2 Agent, a national marketing and advertising platform exclusively for real estate professionals. Brendan is responsible for the strategic vision, direction and execution for the company. He has more than 17 years of business, sales and marketing experience in the information technology and software industries.
  • Matt Dunlap – CTO of Realivent Corporation, a marketing platform for real estate agents, brokerages and communities. He has more than eight years’ of software and online application development experience.
  • Cory Miller – Founder of Cory Miller Design, a web development and marketing studio, focusing on WordPress blog design. He has more than eight years’ experience in journalism, marketing and Web design. (Note: Cory designed this blog).
  • Drew Meyers- Community Relations Specialist at Zillow. Co-founder and administrator of the Carnival of Real Estate, he is a regular contributor on Zillow Blog.

Zillow swears this is not product promotion, but I can’t imagine what else it would be, nor why these front-office marketers would be involved for any reason other than the admittedly subtle long-term process of blogwise product promotion. This is why we are very careful either to exclude or to strictly contain vendors on BloodhoundBlog.

I don’t think there is anything inspired about this. I think it’s just stoopid. There are already excellent real estate technology sites out there, some of which (ahem!) are written by people who are not selling anything.

My own position is vendor-skeptical if not outright vendor-hostile, but I cannot for the life of me imagine what Zillow thinks it has to gain by doing this. Control, I suppose. It seems always to boil down to control with Zillow. Time may prove me wrong, but I think this was a dumb move. Zillow.com can control its own message — man, can it do that! — but it shouldn’t be trying to control the rest of the conversation. But the company is well-favored by luck. If they get lucky, the GeekEstate Blog will die a quick and quiet death.

 
Moreover: How Zillow could have gotten this right:

  • A daily compendium of links to technology posts from the RE.net and the nets at large. Benevolent and beneficial, and as arm’s-length as a vendor can get.
  • A true technology blog, meaning a blog written by actual front-line geeks. Zillow.com would never let its own geeks speak without filtration, though.
  • A true vendor’s group blog, with the group consisting of people like Rich Barton, Pete Flint and Dave Liniger. I would want it to be no-rules cage-fighting at that point. I would pay to read a weblog like that.

Meanwhile, Zillow introduces with great fanfare a brand new weblog with no content. Dumb. Vendors are not webloggers and vendor blog-analogues are not weblogs.

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