Tuesday, December 05, 2006

An Edgeio Analysis

I read a blog post on the new Edgeio purchase on Transparent RE.com. The writer discusses the purchase of ARES by Edgeio and the possible implications. I have a few comments:

Edgeio is a vertical search engine. It currently works to drive traffic back to the listing source. On the listing example that mentioned, it only links to 1 source - www.point2homes.com (not 3 as suggested). Point2 is the service provider that has syndicated the listing to Edgeio. The listing was inputed by a Keller Williams Agent using Point2 software. In this case, the agent is using a free version of the software so the link back is going to the listing detail view with more information at Point2 Homes. If the agent was paying for a website with Point2, the listing on Edgeio would link directly to the listing agent's website.

I suspect that Edgeio will use the MLS IDX feed to eliminate the duplicate entry problem and syndicate listings for the Broker of Record. The challenge is that the listing will not index as well because the MLS does not gather enough local, search information.

I don't see Edgeio syndicating an entire MLS inventory via the broker's IDX feed (as the writer suggests). It opens up a whole can of worms around a listing broker's ability to control how and where their listing is advertised. Yahoo Real Estate currently uses IDX feeds from Prudential. In the process, they have ostracized the rest of the industry. You can't do that in an industry that is this fragmented, with 1.2 million professionals that spend collectively around $11.9B / year on advertising and promotion.



Pat Kitano said...

Your perspective from inside Point2 is welcome. I was reviewing the mentioned listing example from the point of view of a user - and although you know it links to one source, the three hyperlinks link to three different sites that to the untrained eye of a home buyer seems confusing... I would venture to say that the user would choose the KW site as the contact page because it seems like the listing agent website.

I also note that if the listing agent was paying for a Point2 website, then the Edgeio listing would link directly. May I ask what the relationship between ARES and Point2 is? Are the ARES products rebranded Point2 products? (pardons, I'm outside this industry and don't know).

It doesn't make sense if Edgeio's only plan is to automate syndicated listings for the Broker of Record on other MLS systems or nationally... this plan runs counter to the comments from realtors - listings are local, why would a homebuyer use Edgeio to search nationally when there is Realtor.com and a host of other national sites?

Finally, I can see how syndicating an MLS inventory can create havoc since copyrighted listings can then be repurposed easily... but I'm not getting something (btw, I'm not a Realtor)... if Edgeio is "scraping" the listings from the MLS via their affiliated Broker site, doesn't that put them on par with IDX sites that use their Broker's MLS feeds?

Jeff Tomlin said...

There isn't a relationship between Point2 and ARES. Point2 has a relationship with Edgeio so when a member adds a listing, Edgeio is displayed as one destination the listing can be syndicated to. We send the listings to Edgeio via a structured feed.

Why would a homebuyer use Edgeio? Well i guess for the same reason they would use any of the other storefronts or search engines. All of them are trying to compete by providing a better search experience and/or better data. Edgeio has a highly searchable and indexable RSS enabled portal.

To your last question - Edgeio isn't scraping listings from the MLS, nor could they. Listings are sent to Edgeio through feeds. This explains more:

Thus, you can see that the user is directed back to the publishers portal - the listing agent or broker.

Pat Kitano said...

Thank you for clarification... the mechanics of Edgeio works make more sense now.

Keith said...

Hi Jeff

You are right, we would never syndicate IDX records out. We can use them in our search index so long as any clicks land on the site of the broker (from that MLS) who has opted into edgeio. This will allow us to index about 1.5m homes for sale and make them discoverable.

Over time we would like to partner with MLS orgs in making their data syndicatable on behalf of their members. This is of course a highly politicised and legalized area. But we think it is inevitable.

Keith Teare