The Data Distribution Dilemma, Part III


Onboard's Listings 360°Insight Platform

OK, it's time to get into the exciting part of this discussion: SOLUTIONS. In my last post, I framed out the five underpinning beliefs which are the foundation of our solution to the data distribution dilemma.  Just as a refresher, they are: (1) shared benefits/everyone must win; (2) the MLS is the best source for listing data; (3) the Broker wants destination control; (4) trusted publishing partners do add value and (5) the consumer is King. So let’s get to details.

Onboard’s technology platform is called Listings 360°Insight and it is built upon listings data distribution technology we’ve been providing to our own industry clients for more than two years.  In a nutshell, Listings 360°Insight is a real-time API data distribution and tracking system integrated with a comprehensive business intelligence portal.  The Listings 360°Insight platform is designed for MLSs to install as the primary mechanism for enabling access to listings information for use on websites and has three significant components:

  • Search API: A real-time request and response system to access the Listings Data from a secure environment.  Approved data licensees submit search requests for Listings Data in real-time using the API’s expansive search capabilities, and the system returns query data for a specific search for parsing and display on a licensed website.  All search requests are authenticated in real time to restrict access to approved licensees only.   This access method eliminates the need for most recipients to access or manage data files from the MLS (via RETS, FTP etc).
  • Tracking API:  Provides the MLS with the ability to collect real-time information on the usage of licensed data including identifying which websites MLS data is being displayed on.  Most tracking features can be implemented even within existing RETS/FTP data feeds.
  • Visibility Portals: Usage of the Search & Tracking API’s create a treasure trove of usage data aggregated from all of a listing searches and views across the Internet – a truly unprecedented amount of valuable information that can be instrumental in helping both professionals and consumers buy and sell real estate.  The Listings 360°Insight platform includes comprehensive, real-time reporting for:
    • Agents:  Providing access to usage data for all of their active listings;
    • Brokers: Brokers can view data across their entire firm as well as at individual office and agent levels;
    • MLS: MLSs can monitor their overall market activity as well as the performance of the underlying publishers and listings websites and provide critical information to members;
    • Seller: Clients can track exposure and activity of their listing to actually see the impact agent’s marketing efforts have on their individual property.
    • Developer:  As a key player in delivering online presence to Brokers and Agents, Developers have access to Dev / Testing / Staging environments; Documentation; Sample code; a comprehensive knowledge Base and system and usage reporting.

While there are a number of valuable benefits derived from the platform, I’ll share the three most directly related to the current Data Distribution Dilemma debates:

  1. More “Valuable” Control:  Rather than the type of “hoarding control” that MLSs have been accused of for years, the platform provides MLSs, in cooperation with brokers, a remarkable level of control over the listings data usage.  This creates higher levels of accountability while generating tangible, positive impacts and opportunities for all stakeholders.
  2. Enhanced Data Accuracy: Users of the listings data will be guaranteed the freshest results and most up-to-date listing data each and every search.
  3. Unprecedented Visibility into Data Usage: Since all data usage is tracked in real time, MLSs, Brokers, Agents, and consumers gain access to reports offering valuable insight across the entire array of websites displaying their listings.

Implementation of Listings 360°Insight within a market will create greater accountability and visibility while improving the accuracy of listings data on the Internet.  Each of the key industry constituencies stand to benefit.


  • Brokers & Franchise Organizations
    • Maintain control of listings distribution while partnering with MLS to manage delivery of the most accurate data to the marketplace.
    • Added visibility will guide brokers in developing and measuring syndication strategies that build website traffic and lead volume while weeding out publishers that don’t contribute to the bottom line.
    • Website innovation will rise and maintenance costs will fall and as internal tech teams and vendors can focus resources on true differentiators by eliminating the expense of IDX/VOW data feed management.
  • Agents
    • More accurate listings data will increase beneficial market exposure and decrease consumer complaints.
    • Visibility into the display and usage of their listings data will help make more informed decisions about pricing and marketing.
  • Multiple Listing Services/Associations
    • The Listings 360°Insight platform enables MLSs to delivered valuable member benefits derived from the Listings database at the center of MLS’s core competence.
    • New non-dues revenue opportunities derived from the usage data created by the platform opens the door to even greater value to members.
    • Enabling real-time access to the MLS database will increase the accuracy of listings data across the Internet.
  • Publishers and Syndication Networks
    • Partnering with MLSs to leverage Listings 360°Insight will gain Syndication Networks greater cooperation from MLSs and wider adoption from Brokers.
    • Reputable and trusted partners will gain wider MLS acceptance (and more listings) when leveraging Listings 360°Insight, all while improving data quality and accuracy.
  • Real Estate Technology Developers
    • Developers and tech teams yearn to focus on innovation yet too often get consumed with tasks that don’t add competitive value to the organization – such as managing IDX/VOW data feeds.  Data management costs fall dramatically when accessing data via an API, recapturing resources for more valuable projects.
  • Consumers
    • Consumers win across the board with better data, more innovative websites, and greater knowledge throughout the process.

It is important to acknowledge that the full realization of these benefits will take time as the platform adoption ramps up in a given market.  There will also be some transition costs for organizations to migrate to the API from legacy data management systems.  However these initial transition costs are relatively low compared to the substantial ongoing costs savings and revenue opportunities created by the platform.

In the final installment of this series on Tuesday 5/3, I’ll address some of the common questions and concerns that we’ve heard in speaking with industry partners about Listings 360°Insight.  That will be followed by an exciting announcement later in the week that you certainly won’t want to miss.

Image Credit: Steven Kay on