Who Would Have Ever Dreamt It Possible?

3 minute read

When Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile he set a whole new mindset for a world of possibilities and now Google has made yet another major announcement that could change the internet world as we know it.

Do you remember dial-up internet & how time consuming it was to sit there waiting for a website to appear on the computer screen or heaven forbid, trying to watch a video?

Well, if you ever had any doubts about the importance that video will play in the world of real estate marketing you may want to sit up and take notice of what Google are about to embark upon.

Amir Kurtovic wrote “Google have announced plans to bring an ultra-high speed fiber network to a few select cities or communities. What is ultra-high speed, exactly? According to Google, it’s about 100 times faster than what most American’s have today. One gigabit per second to be exact.”

“We’ll offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people,” says the statement.

As internet speed increases, marketing property over the web is going to become more about providing an engaging experience and real estate agents should start looking at ways that they can market more like the way project marketing companies currently do.

Lots of project marketing companies are using 3d Rendering & Flythrough Animations like those offered by netstarter.com.au to bring a project to life prior to a complex even being built.

And a couple of weeks ago, I noticed Australian real estate marketing & video company imageination announced on Twitter, “We will be rolling out 3D floor plans as part of our service offering to agents in the next few weeks. More to come.”

Going forward, broadband speeds will progressively keep increasing and to make the most out of the web, real estate agents should look at having a video on the home page of their website to engage their website visitors and help build more trust online.

By engaging consumers with market update videos or property videos, 3D floorplans, virtual tours, etc means that more time is spent on a site, which also helps to make a website more sticky and increases the chances of conversion.

Finally, the responsibility for providing a better online experience can’t just be left in the hands of agents & video companies.

I believe that the major portals will need to look at how they can provide a more engaging experience for the end user.

One of the most important changes that the major portals should be addressing is making property videos easier to see, rather than having them sit towards the bottom of the pile on a property listing page.

With Google talking about One gigabit per second download speed, the internet is going to become an even more engaging experience than we could have ever imagined.

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  • Nick
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 4:49 am 0Likes

    Having gigabit internet would improve everything.
    For the less tech oriented, Google is going 10x faster than the planned National Broadband Network.

    There is only one slight problem with gigabit – What is the best way to use it? 🙂
    Most of the readers here have probably never even seen gigabit speeds. Most places use wireless or 100mbit ethernet.

    I’ve found that its extremely difficult to fully use gigabit. You need a high end system with RAID hard drives to approach gigabit speeds.
    It is so fast I’ve seen computers freeze for several minutes while the process all the data after sending them a large file very quickly.
    Its kinda fun to do actually.

    But I’d call that a feature rather than a problem. People wont be growing out of gigabit internet for a very very long time.

  • Melissa
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 5:09 am 0Likes

    “One of the most important changes that the major portals should be addressing is making property videos easier to see, rather than having them sit towards the bottom of the pile on a property listing page.”

    In reference to your comments, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but 8 years ago the major portals (realestate.com.au) did have links to virtual tous & video on the first search page. That is the page which displays several listings after a search. It was an amazing place to have the link and worked well for homeowners, agents and photographers/ marketing businesses, especially considering the costs involved to produce the virtual tours/videos to the parties involved. One day, about 6 years ago this major portal decided to take off this link and put it hidden as it is today. That is on the dedicated property page at the bottom, hidden. At the time, businesses like mine were completely surprised that a major portal would decide to do this. So after a bit of detective work, was able to find out why the major portal made this
    unpopular choice. I was told firstly, these links took the web user to an external website and away from the major portal. This in turn meant they were loosing ‘hits’ which didn’t bring their stats up. Secondly, people were frustrated because of the time it took to ‘view’ the virtual tour/video due to download times. Of course, this is an old point of view due to fast Internet these days. Personally I would welcome better links again but whether this will ever happen is something yet to be seen.

  • Simon Cashman
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 5:45 am 0Likes

    Cant wait to hear from Mr Clements

  • Glenn Rogers
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 6:03 am 0Likes

    All very facinating but remember this , you have to construct your site to suit everybody not just those with fast connections.

    You need to target the larger audience and build to whats in use by the majority today, that goes for screen size and resolution as well.

    No point having video on your site if it frustrates the hell out of most users because it just wont load properly.

    and Melissa, you’re right the portals dont want to let you out of their site (ha a pun) because that decreases their traffic figures. similarly they love it when you link your own site through to them by having your listings mirrored on your site, this means whenever someone is searching your site it’s the portal that gets the traffic numbers, very clever.

    In the past “some” used to even have their own advertising appear on the agents web site, don’t know if they still do but that was a shameful practise.

  • Nick
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 7:30 am 0Likes

    I’ve puzzled over that one too.

    We’ve recently created a virtual floor plan maker where the agent makes it themselves. Its dirt cheap since we only have to maintain it.

    The floor plans it makes load incredibly fast even with lots of photos (a demo of ours has 11 photos – it loads in about a second).
    Part of that is technical tricks of course, but part of it is just from keeping it simple.

    Slight advertisment, but it does illustrate the point that it doesnt have to be that way. 😛
    See for yourself: http://prop.net.au/if4

  • David Ross
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 8:29 am 0Likes

    Glen, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (Dec 2009), 62% of all households, or 86% of households who have access to the internet are on broadband making interactive content more accessible, and more importantly buffer-free.
    While this percentage should be higher, the point is that video, 3D plans (or any interactive content) can now more than ever be utilised by agents in marketing their listings, giving the consumer the quality and scope of information to make an informed decision about that property, and gives the agents the ‘stickiness’ that Greg refers to, with consumers staying longer on their site, looking at more listings, their branding etc etc
    From a suppliers perspective, we would love the portals to make video more accessible to consumers because it increases the value proposition of the product to agents who have to see value in it if they are to sell it to vendors. With over 4 million people going to realestate.com.au each month, it would be great if they made video / interactive content more visible and accessible….maybe in the proposed site upgrade..

  • Glenn Rogers
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 8:40 am 0Likes

    David, that still leaves 15% of your potential customers who aren’t on broadband and I reckon a lot who are, are on the lowest plans with the slowest speeds.

    I’m on the fastest plan I can get and these videos and virtual tours are still frustrating at times, in fact most of the time I simply don’t expect them to work properly.

    This may be due to bad programming or other technical errors but the fact remains that I believe for one reason or another most people do not have access to trouble free very fast broadband.

    I would use simple technology to better effect, make sure your images are quality, not heavy and load super fast, that will impress anyone who uses the web.

    I think we have a long way to go before we can all just click into a heavy content rich video with no problems.

  • Nick
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 8:57 am 0Likes

    David, ‘broadband’ by government standards is 256kbps.
    The majority cannot get more than 1.5mbit (the fastest I can get).
    YouTube standard quality takes ~10 seconds before I can watch it without buffering. Real Estate videos take even longer.

    Google bring on the gigabit. 😉

  • Glenn Rogers
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 9:00 am 0Likes

    “Google bring on the gigabit. ;-)”

    Nick even if they do how long wil you have to wait before all your customers and clients pick it up ?

    I think we still have a long wait.

  • Shane Dale
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 10:46 am 0Likes

    Please dont confuse virtual tours with video load times – decent virtual tours will be large on screen and under 250kb for a full screen effect and have a loading percentage title. Video is usually slower or smaller or both.

    Thats the difference – as well as on screen size and production costs which are cheaper for virtual tours than video. Both have their place for the reasons above.

    I think people on slower connections get used to slower downloads, but when it comes to assessing what is usually the largest single financial transaction purchase for most people ( buying their home) – they tend to get more patient and diligent than those buying ringtones for example (plus homebuyers are usually a matrue age group who see property seeking as a hugely important task, its not an impulse buy)

    So i think information is critical, speed just makes it easier, but will not stop a determined buyer from getting the info they desire, even if it involves some degree of slowness, compared with just photos. Floorplans are even more critical than either video or virtual tours – I could write alot on that topic. Combining them all is sensible and simple. Ask your buyers if they agree.

  • Greg Vincent
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 11:01 am 0Likes

    Glenn, reducing the user experience to cater for the 15% who don’t have broadband would take our real estate marketing back to the dark ages.

    People now spend more hours on the internet than they do watching TV, so it’s important to engage customers.

    Many of the cookie cutter style websites that agents have don’t convert at all. In fact, I’d take a stab in the dark here, that approx 95% of people who are subscribed to newsletter communications by agents throughout Australia are manually entered into the database by someone working at the agency.

    The bounce rates & conversion rates on the opt-in pages of agents websites would be some of the worst on the internet, especially considering how much traffic goes to most agency websites.

    Engagement helps to build trust online which then leads to conversion.

  • Glenn Rogers
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 11:29 am 0Likes

    I see your point Greg but it’s not just the 15% it’s all the others with lousy connections that perform like dialup.

    In any case I see video as a listing tool rather than a selling tool, people will look at photos then visit the property, I know I do.

  • Greg Vincent
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 11:54 am 0Likes

    Glenn, a great example of how an agent is using video effectively within their site is Mat Hayson from Cobden & Hayson Real Estate http://www.ch.com.au

    Whilst I think their content & interview style works well, I only have one small criticism. At the very end of the video they really should have a call to action.

    Something to get people to opt-in to their newsletter, blog or call office to ask questions, etc.

    Aside from that I feel that their video could work well for both buyers (creating a sense of urgency) and for sellers (seeking information).

  • Glenn Rogers
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 1:34 pm 0Likes

    Sometimes I wonder if this sort of thing really acheives anything other than make the agent feel whizz bang, look what I can do !

    I think if it was used to give some information that people cant get anywhere else it might be useful but agents saying how good the market is ?

  • Glenn Rogers
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm 0Likes

    ALSO I think the video should load when the page loads nor require a click.

  • David Ross
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 2:39 pm 0Likes

    Glenn, video is a medium that is not going to spin every agents wheels. Like anything, you have to see the value in it, whether that be for your vendors property, your personal profile, or your brand. Done well, it enhances all 3.
    There is a stat flying around at the moment from the National Association of Realtors (US) that 73% of consumers would list with an agent that uses video, yet only 1% of agents do, so there is merit it in! Would be good to get some stats like that from Oz…

  • Glenn
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 4:55 pm 0Likes

    As I said David, a good listing tool. Vendors would favour an agent that gives them more bells and whistles.

    While I question it’s real worth there’s no doubt it ads more bling to a web site and as this is a marketing exercise for listing as well as selling thats a good thing.

    So in that context it gets my vote regardless of what I said previously.

  • Melissa
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 6:25 am 0Likes

    Hi Shane

    I was not comparing video to virtual tours but rather the fact that the time to download is the same issue, remembering virtual tours were the “modern” Internet marketing tool 6 – 8 years ago. Video has become more acceptable in today’s Internet marketing however seems to have the same download issues as virtual tours did back then. Anything new in Internet marketing will have the same probs.

  • Nick
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 6:51 am 0Likes

    Glenn, loading a video without my permission in my browser will make me leave very very quickly.
    Especially if its say on your front page and about a topic not relevant to me.

    Your right Melissa. I’ve seen interactive floor plans take several seconds to load, and then they show a progress bar when you click on a new image as well!
    When implemented carefully, it can be very quick however.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 7:32 am 0Likes

    Glenn Rogers,

    Sometimes when you post it is showing Glenn Rogers, and sometimes just Glenn. I assume you are posting from two different computers. Your link is the same but for clarity sake it might be best to change one of the accounts to be the same as the other one so all your posts are under the one name..

    As to the numbers of people still using broadband through Google Analytics I have access to a number of other real estate sites in addition to our own collection plus i have a few other websites that I have access to. All up they generate well over 100,000 visits per month over about 30 sites. They range in size from a brand new small agency site getting just 5 or 6 visitors per day up to around 1000 visitors per day.

    I did a quick run through and the numbers remained fairly similar. The connection speed of about two thirds of all visitors could be determined. Of that only about 2 to 3% were using dialup. The highest for any of those sites was 3.09% of all visits and that worked out at just 5.3% of those that could be determined.

    The numbers shocked me and it seems we have finally given up dialup in this country and not before time. There must be a lot of those 56k modems in landfill 🙂

    Have a look at your own stats and see what sort of numbers you are getting.

    Now there is still probably an argument that all those users that are still on 256k adsl are not really on broadband.. 🙂

  • Glenn Rogers
    Posted February 19, 2010 at 1:55 am 0Likes

    “Sometimes when you post it is showing Glenn Rogers, and sometimes just Glenn. I assume you are posting from two different computers”

    Thanks Glenn, I hadn’t even noticed, probably because when I’m on the lap top sometimes I’m also dealing with a bottle of Scotch.:)

  • Aaron Meehan
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 12:41 pm 0Likes

    @Glenn Rogers


  • Aaron Meehan
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 12:43 pm 0Likes

    This is a free bandwidth test here http://speedtest.net/ it tests up and down.

  • Aaron Meehan
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 12:44 pm 0Likes
  • Glenn Batten
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 2:34 pm 0Likes

    The one consistent thing with technology is that often there is more than one metric to consider for performance. As an example there was a day when cpu speed in your laptop actually meant something however these days you can sit 4 laptops beside each other rate at the same cpu speed and yet their performances vary because of the actual cpu model and how many cores it has. Unfortunately manufacturers abuse this with an uneducated audience and flog off older cpu models to peopel thinking they are getting newer faster chips.

    Same thing with network speed. Two different ADSL connections might be rated at the same speed but their real world performance can be night and day. What ISP’s fail to tell you is there contention ratio… in general those real cheap plans have high contention ratios.

    Very few businesses actually pay for a commerical or business grade connection, choosing instead a residential connection that can have a contention ratio at around 1:20 and then they wonder why they dont get the perfromance they thought they paid for.

    Contention ratio means that the wholesale network bandwidth to the exchange is actually resold to retail customers at up to 20 times over capacity. Basically all the customers cannot get the full bandwidth at the same time. It’s why many people find in the afternoon their connection can slow down…. the kids get home from school and start downloading.

    So even somebody with a 1500kbps connection might under conditions of heavy network load and on a network with a contention ratio of 20:1 find actual bandwidth performance close to an old 64k ISDN connection and that is not going to give you great perfromance on any streaming video I know 🙂

    Even those on faster ADSL1 speeds up to 8mbit and ADSL2 can still suffer badly.

    True business grade connections can have contention ratios of 1:1 or 1:2 and what you see on the “box” is really what is inside.. Of course many plans termed as business grade are just residential plans with a fixed IP.

    So if you are not getting the performance you expect dont just look at the speed of your connection but the quality of you ISP as well.

  • PaulD
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 11:31 pm 0Likes

    Glenn, Nice description of contention ratio. I have the Telstra Business Broadband (allegedly the fastest available, 20M) and still, at different times of the day, i’ts not great. I think I will ask them what the contention ratio is and see what kind of an answer I get.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 12:37 am 0Likes

    Good luck trying to get that out of first level support 🙂

    Seriously though, that account should be fine.. If you had an account with a discount ISP then I would expect problems. hmm.. if its just video you are having a problem with .. maybe look at video drivers and possibly what codecs you have installed… especially if your bandwidth test comes back ok..

  • Aaron Meehan
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:35 am 0Likes


    If your experiencing poor results on a 20mbit connection, id be looking at congestion caused within your home and office first.

    If you can determine that there is no one on your network is uploading/downloading anything then i would perform a http://www.speedtest.net and see what speed your actually recording at that time.

    Being able to determine if the issue lies within your network or not is the first step to troubleshooting speed issues and can save you a world of pain when your on the phone to support.

    As far as codecs go, 99.9% of the content in question will be delivered via the flash player. Its free to upgrade, this often helps too.

    Codecs only become an issue when you are locally playing a file, meaning you have dowloaded a video file from the net to a part of the hard drive on your computer and trying to view it that way.

    Most of the content in question is streamed and therefor the player handles all the coding and decoding of information so a simple upgrade will get you the latest and greatest.

    Hope this helps!

  • Aaron Meehan
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:37 am 0Likes

    Also Youtube is a great benchmark video site to test against when your having trouble viewing video online.

    Simply open Youtube and watch any video if it streams slowly you know your bandwidth is being choked by something.

  • Sal Espro
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 1:10 am 0Likes

    Gee, you’d reckon that young bloke on the video would have a shave. Looks friendly but more like a used car salesman than real estate. I guess he’s not interested in dealing with my mum.

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