There may be an opportunity now for MLSs to partner with Newspapers to provide the services offered to them by Trulia, Zillow, and Homefinder – but will they?

For those of us who are old enough to remember the birth of online advertising, you will recall its first steps – text descriptions of properties. It was a simple construct – take the news classifieds and make them viewable online. Then came the birth of .jpg compression – allowing film to be scanned and published online. The publishing industry and the early MLS industry understood this process only too well – those were the days when film was hand delivered and hand processed. Agents paid a premium to have their listings appear online.

As technology evolved and costs of posting images online diminished, so did the fees to advertisers. Today, in nearly all cases, print publishers publish listings online. Advertisers love it because it extends the reach of their listing, sellers love it, buyers love it, and publishers love it for traffic. However, this perfect world seems to be cracking at the seems as online traffic and listing content increases in value.

There are three key issues causing the cracks. The first issue is Terms of Use of third party websites. The second is the selling of advertising listing information. The third is the poor performance of third party listing websites in generating real business.