SEM and VTs

virtualtourSEM and VTs, sounds a little more than conspicuous. It’s code for using some Internet strategies to do a little more with online marketing.

There is a gaping area of unexploited territory available to cleaver brokers who understand how to leverage unbranded virtual tours in real estate. As WAV Group has discussed before, the unbranded virtual tour allows a broker to publish a Virtual Tour to other broker and agent websites. If done correctly, that virtual tour provides a link back to the broker’s website. It is not a link that the consumer sees or can even touch, but search engine spiders follow the link. It has long been known that link backs are a big benefit in Search Engine Optimization. However, like every exploit – this strategy wanes in effectiveness as more brokers adopt the strategy and as search engines change their ranking algorithms.

Moving on, some WAV Group clients have begun to try some new strategies that are proving to be pretty effective. The unbranded Virtual Tour can place a cookie on the consumer’s browser that can be used to target search engine marketing and online banner advertising to the consumer across the Internet. Obviously you cannot advertise to a consumer on a competing broker’s website, but you can track that consumer when they leave the competitor’s website and hit them with all kinds of advertising all over the web. This practice is commonly referred to as retargeting.

Don’t get too excited. Many browsers are beginning to block cookies that do this sort of thing – making the strategy more difficult and the reach less effective. But when it works, it works really well. The cookie acts like a beacon that shines a light on consumers who are on broker or agent websites looking at IDX listings. That is a target rich audience for advertising.

There is a little more to this story. It involves recruiting. As we learned in our 2013 Broker Website Effectiveness study, few brokers are deploying search engine marketing strategies. Remember that many of the visitors to agent and broker websites who are looking at virtual tours are agents. It may seem unprofitable to advertise to agents, but that is far from the truth. When an agent sees a broker’s online advertising they get the impression that the broker is doing more than their current broker to market online. That is a powerful recruiting message.

If you want to learn more about this stuff, contact Victor Lund at WAV Group Consulting. 805-709-6696


  1. Giovanni Mascolino November 26, 2013 at 7:34 am - Reply

    Retargeting is a strategy that looks good on paper but is widely ignored by web patrons.

    The problem is that there is no logic behind the ads, but simply a large volume of ads that pop up on multiple and subsequent pages with no filter.

    For instance, I just bought new running shoes from Amazon. Yet all day I am getting ads displayed for Zappos and other shoe companies, including Amazon, trying to sell me shoes.

    The technology is “dumb” and does not take into account user behaviour. Nor does it recognize when the purpose for the search term, in this case Saucony shoes, was fulfilled. So I already bought my shoes, yet for the next five days I get ads for running shoes.

    These types of ads simply make user’s eyes glaze over and sharpen our avoidance skills so that the ads do not even divert our eyes any more, we simply ignore the ads.

    Not every “new” marketing technology or strategy is a good one, just because it is unique.

    • Victor Lund November 26, 2013 at 7:48 am - Reply

      Well said Giovanni! Like all strategies, they need proper placement and proper management. You also need to expect that sometimes things go very wrong as they did with you and your shoes. But real estate is different. The sales cycle for real estate is long. Moreover, many brokers take a customer for life strategy that supports consumers through the various life cycles of homeownership. Advertising about local market trends or mortgage finance or re-finance options, or real estate investing, or homeowners insurance audits are all different ways to engage the consumer in or out of the buying cycle. At least you know that the consumer took the time to look at a virtual tour. Virtual Tours a a layer deeper than the listing detail page. The consumer is leaning in more. That makes them a better candidate for retargeting.

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